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      The Role of Insulin-Like Growth Factors and Insulin-Like Growth Factor–Binding Proteins in the Nervous System


      Biochemistry Insights

      SAGE Publications

      IGF, IGFBP, nervous system, neurodegenerative disease

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          The insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) and their receptors are widely expressed in nervous tissue from early embryonic life. They also cross the blood brain barriers by active transport, and their regulation as endocrine factors therefore differs from other tissues. In brain, IGFs have paracrine and autocrine actions that are modulated by IGF-binding proteins and interact with other growth factor signalling pathways. The IGF system has roles in nervous system development and maintenance. There is substantial evidence for a specific role for this system in some neurodegenerative diseases, and neuroprotective actions make this system an attractive target for new therapeutic approaches. In developing new therapies, interaction with IGF-binding proteins and other growth factor signalling pathways should be considered. This evidence is reviewed, gaps in knowledge are highlighted, and recommendations are made for future research.

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          Most cited references 356

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              Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease.

              Increasing evidence suggests that Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis is not restricted to the neuronal compartment, but includes strong interactions with immunological mechanisms in the brain. Misfolded and aggregated proteins bind to pattern recognition receptors on microglia and astroglia, and trigger an innate immune response characterised by release of inflammatory mediators, which contribute to disease progression and severity. Genome-wide analysis suggests that several genes that increase the risk for sporadic Alzheimer's disease encode factors that regulate glial clearance of misfolded proteins and the inflammatory reaction. External factors, including systemic inflammation and obesity, are likely to interfere with immunological processes of the brain and further promote disease progression. Modulation of risk factors and targeting of these immune mechanisms could lead to future therapeutic or preventive strategies for Alzheimer's disease. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Biochem Insights
                Biochem Insights
                Biochemistry Insights
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                17 April 2019
                : 12
                School of Health & Life Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK
                Author notes
                Moira S Lewitt, School of Health & Life Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus, Paisley PA1 2BE, UK. Email: Moira.Lewitt@
                © The Author(s) 2019

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages(

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                January-December 2019

                neurodegenerative disease, nervous system, igfbp, igf


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