Pleiotropic effects of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 on biological aging: inferences from moderate caloric-restricted animals

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1999 Dec;54(12):B521-38. doi: 10.1093/gerona/54.12.b521.


Moderate caloric restriction (60% of ad libitum intake) is an important model to investigate potential mechanisms of biological aging. This regimen has been reported to decrease the number of pathologies and increase life span in all species tested to date. Although moderate caloric restriction induces a wide range of physiological changes within the organism, adaptive changes within the endocrine system are evident and serve to maintain blood levels of glucose. These alterations include an increase in growth hormone secretory dynamics and a decline in plasma levels of IGF-1. These endocrine compensatory mechanisms can be induced at any age, and we have proposed that these alterations mediate some of the beneficial aspects of moderate caloric restriction. Numerous studies indicate that growth hormone and IGF-1 decrease with age and that administration of these hormones ameliorates the deterioration of tissue function evident in aged ad libitum-fed animals, suggesting that the absence of these hormones contributes to the phenotype of aging. Nevertheless, IGF-1 is an important risk factor in age-related pathologies including lung, breast, and prostate cancer. From these studies, we propose that endocrine compensatory mechanisms induced by moderate caloric restriction (including increased growth hormone and decreased IGF-1) decrease the stimulus for cellular replication, resulting in a decline in pathologies and increased life span observed in these animals. These findings have important implications for potential mechanisms of moderate caloric restriction and suggest that neuroendocrine compensatory mechanisms exert a key role on the actions of moderate caloric restriction on life span.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Longevity
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / etiology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone