The Hierarchy of Brain Networks Is Related to Insulin Growth Factor-1 in a Large, Middle-Aged, Healthy Cohort: An Exploratory Magnetoencephalography Study

Brain Connect. 2017 Jun;7(5):321-330. doi: 10.1089/brain.2016.0469.


Recently, a large study demonstrated that lower serum levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) relate to brain atrophy and to a greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease in a healthy elderly population. We set out to test if functional brain networks relate to IGF-1 levels in the middle aged. Hence, we studied the association between IGF-1 and magnetoencephalography-based functional network characteristics in a middle-aged population. The functional connections between brain areas were estimated for six frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha1, alpha2, beta, gamma) using the phase lag index. Subsequently, the topology of the frequency-specific functional networks was characterized using the minimum spanning tree. Our results showed that lower levels of serum IGF-1 relate to a globally less integrated functional network in the beta and theta band. The associations remained significant when correcting for gender and systemic effects of IGF-1 that might indirectly affect the brain. The value of this exploratory study is the demonstration that lower levels of IGF-1 are associated with brain network topology in the middle aged.

Keywords: insulin growth factor-1; magnetoencephalography; minimum spanning tree; network theory; phase lag index.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I