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J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2011 Dec;2(4):191-200. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1, and insulin signaling-a pharmacological target in body wasting and cachexia.


Cachexia is an irreversible process that can develop in the course of chronic disease. It is characterized by the remodeling of the metabolic, inflammatory, and endocrine pathways. Insulin, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are involved in glucose, protein, and fat metabolism, which regulates body composition. In body wasting and cachexia, their signaling is impaired and causes anabolic/catabolic imbalance. Important mechanisms include inflammatory cytokines and neurohormonal activation. Remodeled post-receptor insulin, GH, and IGF-1 pathways constitute a potential target for pharmacological treatment in the setting of body wasting and cachexia. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma agonists, drugs inhibiting angiotensin II action (angiotensin II antagonists and inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme), and testosterone, which interfere with post-receptor pathways of insulin, GH, and IGF-1, were investigated as pharmacological intervention targets and various clinically important implications were reported. There are several other potential targets, but their treatment feasibility and applicability is yet to be established.

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