Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-II contribute differentially to the phenotype of pregnancy associated plasma protein-A knock-out mice

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2011 Oct;21(5):243-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2011.06.002. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


Context: Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling is essential for achieving optimal body size during fetal development, peak bone mass during puberty, and maximal fecundity in the reproductive period. IGF-II is considered the main fetal IGF, whereas IGF-I is more important postnatally. Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) enhances local IGF signaling through cleavage of inhibitory IGF binding proteins. Conversely, inhibition of PAPP-A results in reduced local IGF action. Thus, PAPP-A knock-out (KO) mice are born as proportional dwarfs due to the dysregulation of IGF-II signaling during early embryogenesis that impacts body size. Relaxation of IgfII imprinting through mutation of a reciprocally imprinted downstream gene, H19, which allowed transcription of IGF-II from the normally silent maternal allele, rescued the dwarf phenotype of PAPP-A KO mice.

Objective: To determine the effect of increased IGF-II expression on postnatal phenotypes of PAPP-A KO mice.

Design: Young adult wild-type (WT), PAPP-A KO, H19 mutant (ΔH19/WT) and ΔH19/PAPP-A KO mice were characterized for skeletal phenotype (peripheral quantitative computed tomography at the midshaft and distal metaphysis of the femur) and reproductive phenotype (time to first litter, time between litters, pups per litter).

Results: Serum IGF-II levels were significantly increased in ΔH19/WT and ΔH19/PAPP-A KO mice compared to WT and PAPP-A KO mice; serum IGF-I levels were not affected by H19 mutation. PAPP-A KO mice had reductions in cortical thickness and in cortical and trabecular area, bone mineral content and bone mineral density compared to WT mice. There were no significant differences between PAPP-A KO and ΔH19/PAPP-A KO mice in any of the bone parameters. PAPP-A KO crossed with (×) PAPP-A KO had a longer time until first litter, normal time between subsequent litters, and significantly reduced number of pups per litter compared to WT×WT. ΔH19/PAPP-A KO×ΔH19/PAPP-A KO had an even longer time to first litter, but also longer time between litters. This phenotype was associated with female ΔH19/PAPP-A KO mice. Furthermore, these ΔH19/PAPP-A KO mouse mothers failed to care for their pups.

Conclusions: An increase in IGF-II expression did not rescue the skeletal and reproductive deficiencies associated with reduced local IGF-I signaling in PAPP-A KO mice. In addition, the data suggest a potential new role for genomic imprinting at the IgfII/H19 locus affecting maternal behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / genetics
  • Female
  • Femur / anatomy & histology
  • Femur / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Litter Size / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenotype*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A / genetics*
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A / metabolism
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Serum / chemistry


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A