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Endocrinology. 2018 Feb 1;159(2):570-578. doi: 10.1210/en.2017-00908.

What Happened to the IGF Binding Proteins?

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Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Medicine, Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Insulinlike growth factor (IGF) binding proteins (IGFBPs) 1 to 6 are high-affinity regulators of IGF activity. They generally inhibit IGF actions by preventing binding to the IGF-I receptor but can also enhance their actions under some conditions. Posttranslational modifications such as glycosylation and phosphorylation modulate IGFBP properties, and IGFBP proteolysis results in IGF release. IGFBPs have more recently been shown to have IGF-independent actions. A number of mechanisms are involved, including modulation of other growth factor pathways, nuclear localization and transcriptional regulation, interaction with the sphingolipid pathway, and binding to non-IGF biomolecules in the extracellular space and matrix, on the cell surface and intracellularly. IGFBPs modulate important biological processes, including cell proliferation, survival, migration, senescence, autophagy, and angiogenesis. Their actions have been implicated in growth, metabolism, cancer, stem cell maintenance and differentiation, and immune regulation. Recent studies have shown that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the regulation of IGFBP abundance. A more complete understanding of IGFBP biology is necessary to further define their cellular roles and determine their therapeutic potential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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