IGFBP-2: The dark horse in metabolism and cancer

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2015 Jun;26(3):329-46. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2014.12.001. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


The ubiquitous nature of the IGF system, expressed early in embryonic development throughout postnatal and adult life, indicates a key role for this system in human biology. Studies of transgenic mice over-expressing components of the IGF system or mice with disruptions of the same genes have clearly shown that the IGF system plays an important role in vivo. The activity of the IGF ligands, elicited via their receptors and transduced by various intracellular signal pathways, is modulated by the IGFBPs. Among all the IGFBPs, IGFBP-2 has been implicated in the regulation of IGF activity in the nervous system, peripheral tissue and organs. Besides binding to IGFs in the circulation, these IGF-regulatory activities of IGFBP-2 involve interactions with components of the extracellular matrix and cell surface proteoglycans and integrin receptors. In addition to these "local" peri-cellular activities of IGFBP-2, it became evident that IGFBP-2 exerts other key functions within the cell. In the cytoplasm IGFBP-2, most likely in the absence of the IGFs, interacts with regulatory proteins including transcription factors and cytoplasm-nuclear transporters. Within the nucleus IGFBP-2, directly or indirectly, promotes transcriptional activation of specific genes. These intrinsic activities of IGFBP-2 are mediated via specific functional domains. All of these IGFBP-2 activities, intrinsic or dependent on IGFs, contribute to its functional roles in growth/development, metabolism and malignancy as evidenced by studies in IGFBP-2 animal models and also by many in vitro studies. Finally, preclinical studies have demonstrated that IGFBP-2 administration can be beneficial in improving metabolic responses (inhibition of adipogenesis and enhanced insulin sensitivity), while blockade of IGFBP-2 appears to be an effective approach to inhibiting tumor growth and metastasis.

Keywords: Cancer; Diabetes; IGFBP-2; Metabolism; Obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2 / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Somatomedins / metabolism


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2
  • Somatomedins