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Biomedical Reviews

Insulin-like growth factor-II in the cycle of life

Sylvia C. van Buul-Offers


The insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) play important roles in growth and development. They are structurally homologous to proinsulin and can interact with the type I and type II IGF receptors and, to a lesser extent, the insulin receptor. IGF have potent hypoglycemic activity, which is modulated by the presence of specific IGF-binding proteins, six of which (IGFBP-1 to IGFBP-6) have been cloned to date. Postnatally, IGF-stimulated growth is merely regulated by pituitary-derived growth hormone (GH). However, prenatal growth regulation by IGF is GH-independent. IGF and IGFBP are produced by many tissues and circulate in plasma, suggesting that they act both by endocrine and autocrine/paracrine mechanisms. In spite of the vast literature about IGF, their physiological implications in prenatal and postnatal growth regulation are insufficiently known. This is especially true for IGF-II. Therefore, this article will dance round a few selected aspects relevant to the biological effects of IGF-II in vivo.

Biomedical Reviews 1996; 5: 65-71.

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Sylvia C. van Buul-Offers
University of Utrecht

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