Insulin-like growth factor-I and neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2002 Mar 31;134(1-2):115-22. doi: 10.1016/s0165-3806(02)00277-8.


In most brain regions of highly developed mammals, the majority of neurogenesis is terminated soon after birth. However, new neurons are continually generated throughout life in the subventricular zone and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is a polypeptide hormone that has demonstrated effects on these progenitor cells. IGF-I induces proliferation of isolated progenitors in culture, as well as affecting various aspects of neuronal induction and maturation. Moreover, systemic infusion of IGF-I increases both proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult rat hippocampus, and uptake of serum IGF-I by the brain parenchyma mediates the increase in neurogenesis induced by exercise. Neurogenesis in the adult brain is regulated by many factors including aging, chronic stress, depression and brain injury. Aging is associated with reductions in both hippocampal neurogenesis and IGF-I levels, and administration of IGF-I to old rats increases neurogenesis and reverses cognitive impairments. Similarly, stress and depression also inhibit neurogenesis, possibly via the associated reductions in serotonin or increases in circulating glucocorticoids. As both of these changes have the potential to down regulate IGF-I production by neural cells, stress may inhibit neurogenesis indirectly via downregulation of IGF-I. In contrast, brain injury stimulates neurogenesis, and is associated with upregulation of IGF-I in the brain. Thus, there is a tight correlation between IGF-I and neurogenesis in the adult brain under different conditions. Further studies are needed to clarify whether IGF-I does indeed mediate neurogenesis in these situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology*


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I