Insulin-like growth factors and cancer

Lancet Oncol. 2002 May;3(5):298-302. doi: 10.1016/s1470-2045(02)00731-3.


Interest in insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and their effect on carcinogenesis has increased recently because high serum concentrations of IGF1 are associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancers. Physiologically, IGF1 is the major mediator of the effects of the growth hormone; it thus has a strong influence on cell proliferation and differentiation and is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis. The action of IGF1 is predominantly mediated through the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R). IGF1R is involved in several oncogenic transformation processes. The availability of unbound IGF1 for interaction with IGF1R is modulated by IGF-binding proteins (IGFBP1-6). IGFBPs, especially IGFBP3, have independent effects on cell growth, for example, IGFBP3 has proapoptotic activities both dependent on and independent of p53.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / physiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1