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J Bone Miner Res. 1994 Nov;9(11):1789-96.

Skeletal unloading induces resistance to insulin-like growth factor I.

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Endocrine Research Unit, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco, California.
U CA, San Francisco


In previous studies with a hindlimb elevation model, we demonstrated that skeletal unloading transiently inhibits bone formation. This effect is limited to the unloaded bones (the normally loaded humerus does not cease growing), suggesting that local factors are of prime importance. IGF-I is one such factor; it is produced in bone and stimulates bone formation. To determine the impact of skeletal unloading on IGF-I production and function, we assessed the mRNA levels of IGF-I and its receptor (IGF-IR) in the proximal tibia and distal femur of growing rats during 2 weeks of hindlimb elevation. The mRNA levels for IGF-I and IGF-IR rose during hindlimb elevation, returning toward control values during recovery. This was accompanied by a 77% increase in IGF-I levels in the bone, peaking at day 10 of unloading. Changes in IGF binding protein levels were not observed. Infusion of IGF-I (200 micrograms/day) during 1 week of hindlimb elevation doubled the increase in bone mass of the control animals but failed to reverse the cessation of bone growth in the hindlimb-elevated animals. We conclude that skeletal unloading induces resistance to IGF-I, which may result secondarily in increased local production of IGF-I.

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