Epidemiology and biology of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) as an anti-cancer molecule

Horm Metab Res. Nov-Dec 2003;35(11-12):726-33. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-814146.


The Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) signaling system plays a central role in cellular growth, differentiation and proliferation. IGFBP-3 is the most abundant IGF binding protein in human serum and has been shown to be a growth inhibitory, apoptosis-inducing molecule, capable of acting via IGF-dependent and IGF-independent mechanisms. Over the last decade, several clinical studies have proposed that individuals with IGFBP-3 levels in the upper range of normal may have a decreased risk for certain common cancers. This includes evidence of a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. In addition, a series of in vitro studies and animal experiments point towards an important role for IGFBP-3 in the regulation of cell growth and apoptosis. In this brief review, we discuss the biological role of IGFBP-3 and summarize the epidemiological and experimental evidence suggesting a role for IGFBP-3 as an anti-cancer molecule.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II