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Endocr Rev. 2013 Dec;34(6):798-826. doi: 10.1210/er.2012-1033. Epub 2013 May 13.

Tumors, IGF-2, and hypoglycemia: insights from the clinic, the laboratory, and the historical archive.

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MD, FACP, Investigator, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Laboratory of Diabetes and Diabetes-Related Research, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030.


Tumors of mesenchymal and epithelial origin produce IGF-2, which activates pathways in the tumors. In a minority of patients, the tumors (hepatomas, fibromas, and fibrosarcomas are the most common among many) release into the circulation enough IGF-2-related peptides to mimic the fasting hypoglycemia characteristic of patients with insulin-producing islet-cell tumors. Rarely, markedly elevated IGF-2 levels produce somatic changes suggestive of acromegaly. Typically, the elevated IGF-2 levels are associated with suppressed plasma levels of insulin, IGF-1, and GH. Complicating the pathophysiology are the IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs) that can bind IGF-2 and IGF-1, modifying hormone metabolism and action. IGFBP concentrations are often altered in the presence of these tumors. At the cellular level, the 3 hormone-related ligands, IGF-2, IGF-1, and insulin, all bind to 4 (or more) types of IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) and insulin receptor (IR). Each receptor has its own characteristic affinity for each ligand, a tyrosine kinase, and overlapping profiles of action in the target cells. The IGF-2R, in addition to binding mannose-6-phosphate-containing proteins, provides an IGF-2 degradation pathway. Recent evidence suggests IGF-2R involvement also in signal transduction. Surgery, the treatment of choice, can produce a cure. For patients not cured by surgery, multiple therapies exist, for the tumor and for hypoglycemia. Potential future therapeutic approaches are sketched. From 1910 to 1930, hypoglycemia, insulin, insulinomas, and non-islet-cell tumors were recognized. The latter third of the century witnessed the emergence of the immunoassay for insulin; the IGFs, their binding proteins, and assays to measure them; and receptors for the insulin-related peptides as well as the intracellular pathways beyond the receptor. In closing, we replace non-islet-cell tumor hypoglycemia, an outdated and misleading label, with IGF-2-oma, self-explanatory and consistent with names of other hormone-secreting tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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