Insulin-like growth factor-1 lowers spreading depression susceptibility and reduces oxidative stress

J Neurochem. 2012 Jul;122(1):221-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07763.x. Epub 2012 May 17.


Spreading depression (SD), the likely cause of migraine aura and perhaps migraine, is triggered by widespread and unfettered neuronal hyperexcitability. Migraine and the initiating hyperexcitability of seizure, which involve oxidative stress (OS), are likely interrelated. Environmental enrichment (EE) decreases seizure and can reduce migraine. EE's well-characterized neuroprotective effect involves insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Accordingly, we asked if IGF-1 could mitigate the hyperexcitability that initiates SD using rat hippocampal slice cultures. We demonstrate that IGF-1 significantly decreased SD susceptibility and related OS. We mimicked OS of SD and observed that IGF-1 abolished hyperexcitability from OS. Application of an antioxidant significantly decreased SD susceptibility and co-administration of an antioxidant with IGF-1 produced no additive effect, whereas an oxidizer significantly increased SD, and this effect was abrogated by IGF-1. Moreover, IGF-1 significantly decreased baseline OS, despite seemingly paradoxically increasing CA3 bursting. These results suggest that IGF-1 increased endogenous antioxidants to levels sufficient to buffer against the OS of SD. Insulin similarly mitigated SD susceptibility, but required a far greater dose. Since brain IGF-1 increases with EE, and, like insulin, independently functions as an EE mimetic, we suggest that EE mimetics are a novel source of therapeutics for SD, and by extension, migraine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biophysical Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Biophysics
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / drug effects
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Oxidants / pharmacology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Insulin
  • Oxidants
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase