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      IGFs and Human Cancer: Implications Regarding the Risk of Growth Hormone Therapy

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          Perturbations of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis, including the autocrine production of IGFs, IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs) and IGFBP proteases such as prostate specific antigen (PSA), and cathepsin D have been identified in prostate, lung and breast cancer cells and tissues. Serum IGFBP-3 levels have been found to be negatively correlated to the risk of cancer. Interestingly, IGFBP-3 is a potent inhibitor of IGF action and also mediates apoptosis via an IGF-independent mechanism. Recent case-control studies have found an approximately 10% increase in the serum levels of IGF-I in patients with prostate, breast and lung cancers, which are among the most frequently diagnosed cancers. While the studies indicate an association between serum IGF-I levels and cancer risk, causality has not been established. Thus, serum IGF-I level may actually be a confounding variable, serving as a marker for autocrine tissue IGF-I production. Growth hormone (GH) therapy raises both IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels in serum. However, the role of GH in controlling prostate, breast and lung growth and carcinogenesis remains unclear from animal studies. Increased GH levels as seen in acromegaly have been associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia but not with prostate, breast or lung cancers, although colon cancer mortality may be increased. Should serum IGF-I levels be proven to play a causal role in the pathogenesis of cancer, interpreting the risk associated with therapies such as GH replacement must take into account both the duration of exposure and the risk magnitude associated with the degree of serum IGF-I elevation. Since GH-deficient patients often have a subnormal IGF-I serum level, which normalizes on therapy, their cancer risk on GH therapy probably does not increase substantially above that of the normal population. Until further research in the area dictates otherwise, ongoing surveillance and routine monitoring of IGF-I levels in GH recipients should become standard of care.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and risk of breast cancer.

          Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, a mitogenic and antiapoptotic peptide, can affect the proliferation of breast epithelial cells, and is thought to have a role in breast cancer. We hypothesised that high circulating IGF-I concentrations would be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We carried out a nested case-control study within the prospective Nurses' Health Study cohort. Plasma concentrations of IGF-I and IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) were measured in blood samples collected in 1989-90. We identified 397 women who had a diagnosis of breast cancer after this date and 620 age-matched controls. IGF-I concentrations were compared by logistic regression with adjustment for other breast-cancer risk factors. There was no association between IGF-I concentrations and breast-cancer risk among the whole study group. In postmenopausal women there was no association between IGF-I concentrations and breast-cancer risk (top vs bottom quintile of IGF-I, relative risk 0.85 [95% CI 0.53-1.39]). The relative risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women by IGF-I concentration (top vs bottom tertile) was 2.33 (1.06-5.16; p for trend 0.08). Among premenopausal women less than 50 years old at the time of blood collection, the relative risk was 4.58 (1.75-12.0; p for trend 0.02). After further adjustment for plasma IGFBP-3 concentrations these relative risks were 2.88 and 7.28, respectively. A positive relation between circulating IGF-I concentration and risk of breast cancer was found among premenopausal but not postmenopausal women. Plasma IGF-I concentrations may be useful in the identification of women at high risk of breast cancer and in the development of risk reduction strategies. Additional larger studies of this association among premenopausal women are needed to provide more precise estimates of effect.
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            Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study.

            Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is a mitogen for prostate epithelial cells. To investigate associations between plasma IGF levels and prostate cancer risk, a nested case-control study within the Physicians' Health Study was conducted on prospectively collected plasma from 152 cases and 152 controls. A strong positive association was observed between IGF-I levels and prostate cancer risk. Men in the highest quartile of IGF-I levels had a relative risk of 4.3 (95 percent confidence interval 1.8 to 10.6) compared with men in the lowest quartile. This association was independent of baseline prostate-specific antigen levels. Identification of plasma IGF-I as a predictor of prostate cancer risk may have implications for risk reduction and treatment.
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              Wild-type and mutant p53 differentially regulate transcription of the insulin-like growth factor I receptor gene.

              The insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-I-R) plays a critical role in transformation events. It is highly overexpressed in most malignant tissues where it functions as an anti-apoptotic agent by enhancing cell survival. Tumor suppressor p53 is a nuclear transcription factor that blocks cell cycle progression and induces apoptosis. p53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer. Cotransfection of Saos-2 (os-teosarcoma-derived cells) and RD (rhabdomyosarcoma-derived cells) cells with IGF-I-R promoter constructs driving luciferase reporter genes and with wild-type p53 expression vectors suppressed promoter activity in a dose-dependent manner. This effect of p53 is mediated at the level of transcription and it involves interaction with TBP, the TATA box-binding component of TFIID. On the other hand, three tumor-derived mutant forms of p53 (mut 143, mut 248, and mut 273) stimulated the activity of the IGF-I-R promoter and increased the levels of IGF-I-R/luciferase fusion mRNA. These results suggest that wild-type p53 has the potential to suppress the IGF-I-R promoter in the postmitotic, fully differentiated cell, thus resulting in low levels of receptor gene expression in adult tissues. Mutant versions of p53 protein, usually associated with malignant states, can derepress the IGF-I-R promoter, with ensuing mitogenic activation by locally produced or circulating IGFs.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                November 1999
                17 November 2004
                : 51
                : Suppl 3
                : 42-51
                Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif., USA
                53161 Horm Res 1999;51(suppl 3):42–51
                © 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 91, Pages: 10
                IGFs, IGFBPs and Risk of Prostate and Breast Cancer


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