Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) mediates the effects of enriched environment (EE) on visual cortical development

PLoS One. 2007 May 30;2(5):e475. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000475.


Enriched environment (EE) has been recently shown to affect visual cortex development and plasticity, and to prevent dark rearing effects. The factors mediating EE effects on visual cortical development and plasticity are still unclear. We have investigated whether IGF-1 is involved in mediating EE effects on the developing visual cortex. We show that EE increases the number of IGF-1 positive neurons in the visual cortex at P18. Increasing IGF-1 in the visual cortex of non-EE rats by means of osmotic minipumps implanted at P18 mimics EE effects, accelerating visual acuity development, assessed with Visual Evoked Potentials (VEPs). Blocking IGF-1 action in the visual cortex of EE rats by means of the IGF-1 receptor antagonist JB1 from P18 completely blocks EE action on visual acuity development. These results show that IGF-1 is a key factor mediating EE effects on visual cortical development. We then show that IGF-1 affects GAD65 immunoreactivity in perisomatic innervation and the condensation of Chondroitin Sulphate Proteoglycans (CSPGs) in perineuronal nets (PNNs) in the visual cortex. This suggests that IGF-1 action in mediating EE effects could be exerted through the modulation of intracortical inhibitory circuitry and PNN development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / physiology


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I