Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) is a member of the insulin peptide family. It is also known as Somatomedin-C. IGF-1 contains 70 amino acids. These amino acids exist in two chains that connect via disulfide bridges. The liver is the primary source of IGF-1. IGF-1 is responsible for the survival and proliferation of body tissues such as cartilage, bones, and muscles.
IGF-1 plays a pivotal role in the Growth Hormone (GH) axis. GH secretion is regulated by molecules such as GH secretagogues, including ghrelin. After its release, the GH acts on the liver and triggers the release of IGF-1.
It acts on the same cell via the autocrine pathway and the nearby cells via a paracrine mechanism. IGF-1 exerts an effect on almost all body cells. These include musculoskeletal, nervous, gastrointestinal, integumentary, urogenital, and hematological.
What Are The Research Implications of IGF-1?
IGF-1 effects the body via a group of proteins called IGF Binding Proteins (IGFBP). These proteins help carry IGF to different body parts. Once Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 reaches the cells, it acts via pathways like mitogen-activated protein (MAP) and P13K phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K).
Below are some of the research implications of IGF-1:
1. Effects of IGF-1 on Muscle Growth
Muscle bulk declines with age. This decline results from oxidative stress and increased inflammation.
IGF-1 improves muscle strength and growth by two mechanisms.
The first is through a process called muscle hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is its ability to increase the bulk of individual muscle fibers. The muscles increase by the synthesis of skeletal muscle protein. Second, it also increases the number of skeletal muscle fibers by recruiting reserve skeletal muscle cells.
2. The Effects of IGF-1 on Bone Growth
Research suggests several effects of IGF-1 on bones and cartilage.
It can help with bone growth and height due to its ability to improve the development of bone generating cells. Studies show that IGF-1 enhances the growth of tibial bone. Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 stimulates the bone and cartilage forming cells. IGF-1 increases Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and can be a potential therapeutic option for osteoporosis.
3. Cardiovascular Effects of IGF-1
The growth hormone (GH) and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 axis are necessary for the optimum functioning of the cardiovascular system. This axis enhances the contractility of cardiac muscle fibers. This enhancement happens by improving the intracellular availability of calcium and increasing the expression of cardiac contractile proteins. Moreover, GH/IGF-1 axis decreases the resistance of blood vessels by increasing the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood vessels. These effects of IGF-1 can help with a variety of cardiovascular conditions. These include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and angina.
4. Effects of IGF-1 on Age-Related Conditions
Insulin and IGF pathways are generally linked with longevity, protein hemostasis, and enhanced learning and memory skills. Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 slows age-related conditions, one of which is brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s dementia results from the collection of abnormal proteins in the brain. IGF-1 helps prevent the development and slows the progression of this condition by avoiding the aggregation of abnormal proteins.
Research also suggests that IGF-1 can be helpful in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. The age-related neurological disorders result from heightened inflammation and oxidative stress. IGF-1 helps reduce these processes.
5. Body Weight and Hypoglycemia Effects
Decreased level of IGF-1 is a constant finding in overweight individuals. IGF-1 can cause loss of fat by causing an increase in lean muscle mass. Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 increases the sensitivity of body tissues to the available insulin, i.e., it increases insulin sensitivity. This way, it also provides better glycemic control.
IGF-1 improves glycemic control and helps improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is the critical pathology in type 2 diabetes.
6. Additional Benefits of IGF-1
Additional benefits of IGF-1, as suggested by research, include:
● IGF-1 has anabolic effects and can be helpful in conditions requiring anabolic enhancement.
● IGF-1 has a significant potential for soft tissues and muscle repair. It finds use in athletes requiring speedy recovery from injuries.
● Fatty liver disease or Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is one of the leading causes of liver failure. NAFLD results from increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 improves inflammation, oxidative stress, and recovery from liver injury.
● IGF-1 can be helpful in conditions involving the demyelination of neurons. These include a variety of disorders leading to neuropathic pain.
● IGF-1 improves overall well-being and can lead to longevity.
IGF-1 has shown significant promise in clinical research in helping with several medical conditions. More research is warranted to explore more of its beneficial effects.
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