IGFs and IGFBPs: role in health and disease

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Sep;16(3):433-47. doi: 10.1053/beem.2002.0212.


The insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs), and IGFBP proteases are the main regulators of somatic growth and cellular proliferation. IGFs are involved in growth pre-natally and post-natally. Dysregulation of the IGF axis can lead to growth disorders such as growth hormone deficiency and acromegaly. Pre-natally, this dysregulation can lead to IUGR or macrosomia. IGFs also have an important mitogenic action and play a role in tumorigenesis and cancer. These actions are regulated by co-interactions with IGFBPs, especially IGFBP-3. In addition to somatic growth and mitogenic activity, IGFs have hypoglycaemic and insulin sensitizing actions, and their dysregulation is involved in diabetes and its complications. In this chapter, we examine the role of IGFs and IGFBPs in growth, tumorigenesis and diabetes, and discuss treatment modalities for each disease involving the GH-IGF-IGFBP axis, including discussion of current in vitro and in vivo investigations in this field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Growth Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Somatomedins / metabolism*


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Somatomedins