Apoptosis induced by serum withdrawal in human mesangial cells. Role of IGFBP-3

Exp Nephrol. 2001;9(6):366-71. doi: 10.1159/000052634.


Apoptosis has been reported to occur both during the course of kidney development and the progression of kidney injury to scarring. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), a component of the IGF system, has been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines. However, if IGFBP-3 has similar effects in human mesangial cells (HMC) remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the expression of IGFBP-3 and its possible effect on the induction of apoptosis in HMC during serum deprivation. We have observed that IGFBP-3 accumulates progressively in HMC in which serum has been withdrawn. In these cells, an increase of IGFBP-3 is observed before the production of apoptosis suggesting a link between these phenomena. Furthermore, the addition of IGFBP-3 in physiological amounts (from 100 to 400 ng/ml) to culture medium devoid of growth factors accelerates and increases the apoptotic process with a dose-dependent effect. These findings suggest that IGFBP-3 is a mediator of cell death in human mesangial cells when the availability of growth factors is curtailed. These data also suggest that IGFBP-3 could contribute to apoptotic processes observed in human disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blood Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free / pharmacology
  • Glomerular Mesangium / cytology
  • Glomerular Mesangium / drug effects
  • Glomerular Mesangium / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / pharmacology


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3