Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1: What exactly is it?

IGF-1 is a hormone that has a structure very similar to that of insulin. It collaborates with growth hormone in the process of cell reproduction and regeneration.

The adrenal glands is responsible for producing growth hormone, which in turn boosts the digestive system to start producing IGF-1. IGF-1, in turn, promotes growth in body cells, which ultimately results in growth and progress (as in the womb or through teenage years), reinforcing of tissues (trying to improve bone health, muscle building), and recovery (skin, bones, gut lining, etc), based about what the body requires.

Because IGF-1 is so important to development, a kid’s risk of being of short height increases if it is not present in sufficient quantities during the years that the child is growing and maturing.

IGF-1, General Health, and Longevity

IGF-I has been shown to have a role in the regulation of longevity in a number of different taxa, including fruit flies, worms, and rats.

In the majority of research conducted on mice, growth hormone and insulin-like neurotrophic factor I inhibition leads in an increase in longevity (up to 55 percent ). On the other hand, research on people has shown that there is no correlation between IGF-I levels and life expectancy.

In contrast to lab animals, people are vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases, stress, and other environmental conditions, all of which IGF-1 has the potential to alleviate.

Several population-based studies that describe a connection between IGF-I and risk of dying have been published, and the results of these research are inconsistent with one another. Two studies found a greater risk associated with higher levels of IGF-I, whereas three others found a higher risk associated with lower levels of IGF-I. And in six other research, there was not even a hint of a link .

In older males, having either low or high levels of IGF-1 was related with an increased risk of dying from cancer. Because this was only a single, somewhat small research, the findings, despite the fact that they were fascinating, will need to be replicated before they can be considered definitive.

The risk of dying from any cause was shown to be higher in patients who had low as well as high IGF-1 levels, according to a meta-analysis that was conducted in 2011 with a total of 14,906 participants and twelve separate investigations.

People whose IGF-1 levels were low had a 1.27 times increased risk of dying from any cause, whereas people whose IGF-1 levels were high had a 1.18 times increased risk of dying from any reason.

At least six different binding proteins have an effect on the function of insulin-like growth factor I. (IGFBP). IGFBP-3 is the most prevalent, and it is responsible for binding more than ninety percent of the IGF-1 that is found in circulation. Even while IGF-I and IGFBP-3 seem to have strong correlations with one another, there is some circumstantial evidence to suggest that IGF-1 has an independent influence on the risk of illness, such as cancer.

IGF-1’s Effects

1) Anti-Aging Properties

It has been demonstrated that the length of telomeres in the DNA is an essential factor in determining lifespan. IGF-1 has been demonstrated to correspond with higher telomere length in healthy participants of all ages, as well as in old males, according to a separate research.

In the well-known Framingham Heart Study, which included 525 adults between the ages of 72 and 92, researchers found that higher levels of IGF-1 were related with a lower chance of passing away within the next two years.

IGF-1 helped prevent the cognitive deterioration that comes with ageing in rats, probably by encouraging the creation of new cells in the brain.

In older women, reduced levels of IGF-1 are connected with ageing, as well as the frailties that are often associated with ageing, such as decreased muscular strength, slower walking, and less mobility.

Patients who were in a critical condition typically had lower IGF-1 levels.

2) Antioxidants

Glutathione peroxidase, an essential antioxidant enzyme, is increased by IGF-1.

It does this by avoiding cell death and improving the antioxidant state of the cells, which are thus able to withstand radiation exposure.

3) An autoimmune response and inflammation

Inflammation often increases when there are low levels of the growth factor IGF-1.

The injection of IGF-1 delayed the beginning of sickness in mice models of autoimmune disease and brain inflammation; however, providing IGF-1 after the disease had already formed led to an exacerbated worsening of the disease.

When mice are administered IGF-1, they show a reduction in the symptoms of skin irritation, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.

Patients diagnosed with HIV and inflammatory bowel disorders have been shown to have low levels of the growth factor IGF-1.

Patients who suffer from chronic inflammatory disorders such rheumatoid arthritis and lupus typically have reduced amounts of IGF-1 circulating in their bodies.

IGF-1 helps fight autoimmunity by elevating the number of T regulatory cells in the body. IGF-1 also has a suppressive effect on the expression of the MHCI gene.

Studies conducted on animals have shown that high levels of histamine in the body are linked to low levels of IGF-1 in the blood (with the reduction occurring as a result of a histamine H1 pi3k pathway).

4) Brain Heath

Improvements in Learning and Memory IGF-1 is shown to have this effect in animal studies.

In experiments with mice, it was found to be effective in treating both anxiety and depression.

Mice that are older and have lower levels of IGF-1 are more likely to suffer from depression.

In a research with 25 older men, it was shown to improve mental processing speed.

Using a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that IGF-1 was able to stop the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain.

Lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are connected with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in individuals, and IGF-1 resistance goes hand in hand with insulin resistance in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

It mimics the benefits of exercise by increasing BDNF in the brain.

It is helpful for conditions affecting motor neurons, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) IGF-1 levels are shown to be decreased in patients with ALS.

5) The Rate of Muscle Growth and Atrophy
IGF-1 is necessary for the development of muscle, as well as the prevention of muscle wasting associated with age and illness.

6) Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level IGF-1 has been linked to metabolic syndrome.

IGF-1 infusions helped patients with type 2 diabetes decrease their blood sugar, enhance their insulin sensitivity, and drop their triglyceride levels, according to a research.

People who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of having decreased levels of free IGF-1.

People who have hepatitis C tend to have lower levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and they also have an increased risk of becoming insulin resistant. It is considered that these two factors could be related.

7) Disorders of the Heart
IGF-1 has been found to exert anti-inflammatory as well as anti-oxidant effects on blood vessels, which stabilises existing plaque and reduces the formation of further plaque.

IGF-1 levels tend to be lower in those who have cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, deadly ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, congestive heart failure, and poorer recovery after a heart attack.

In a research conducted on a Chinese population, lower levels of IGF-1 were shown to be related with an increased risk of stroke.

8) Increase in Height and Growth

IGF-1 is necessary for the functioning of the hormone known as GH in the body. Therefore, a lack in IGF-1 makes a person insensitive to the impact that GH has on growth and repair.

Children that are lacking in IGF are able to regain some of their lost height with the aid of IGF-1.

Reduced levels of the growth hormone IGF-1 can lead to stunted development in an unborn child.

Children that suffer from Laron Syndrome, a kind of dwarfism, have been found to have decreased levels of IGF-1.

9) Bone Density

In women of a certain age, having higher IGF-1 levels is related with having better bone mineral density.

It has been demonstrated that IGF-1 acts as a direct stimulator of bone development.

However, the muscle-building (anabolic) impact of IGF-1 may also enhance bone density. This is because growing muscle mass needs higher bone strength, and IGF-1 has been shown to have this effect.

10) The Condition of One’s Gut

When IGF-1 was administered to animal models of colitis, burns, and jaundice, there was an improvement in gut health. It increased the amount of DNA and protein in the mucosa and significantly decreased the number of instances in which bacteria were able to move.

IGF-I enhanced the mucosal structure and absorptive capacity as well as decreased bacterial translocation in animal models of small bowel transplantation.

When IGF-1 was administered to infants with intestinal permeability, it resulted in accelerated healing periods.

12) Infections Caused by Bacteria

IGF-1 has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of sepsis and the elimination of bacterial infections in animal models.

IGF-1 shown the ability to assist in the elimination of germs from animal models of cystic fibrosis.

13) The Immune System

Research has shown that IGF-1 can assist improve the activity of natural killer cells.

IGF-I is responsible for the multiplication of B-cells.

14) Electrolyte Balance

It has been demonstrated that IGF-1 can assist in the process of restoring fluid balance in both rats and humans.

15) Is Beneficial To The Skin

Protecting skin from the effects of ageing can be facilitated by reviving dormant collagen formation.

Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is the most powerful activator of collagen manufacturing, and research suggests that it may also slow the ageing process of the skin.


Types of IGF-1 and growth hormone also have the ability to suppress urea production, which can lead to a reduction in blood urea nitrogen levels. Children who are lacking in growth hormone and are treated with human growth hormone have reduced levels of urea nitrogen, which is a direct outcome of decreased urea production.

There is a correlation between advanced liver cirrhosis and low IGF-1 levels in adults.

Other Effects of IGF-1

1) Potential to Play a Role in the Development of Cancer
As a growth factor, IGF-1 is susceptible to being “hijacked” by cancer cells so that they can encourage their own expansion.

IGF-1 fosters an environment that is favourable to breast cancer and is resistant to the effects of anti-cancer medications.

It has been demonstrated that IGF-1 contributes to the aggressiveness of breast cancer.

Taking into account levels of IGF binding protein (IGFBP3), a meta-analysis of 17 studies indicated that IGF-1 has a positive association with breast cancer risk. This is likely owing to the fact that it has an effect on estrogen-sensitive tumours.

A higher level of IGF-1 is linked to an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer.

There is a correlation between having lung cancer and having elevated levels of IGF-1 in the blood.

There is a correlation between elevated levels of IGF-1 in the blood and colorectal cancer.

However, a different research indicated that an increased risk of dying from cancer was associated with both a low and high IGF-1 level [3].

NOTE: The results of studies are not clear. Some people take IGF-binding protein 3 into consideration, while others do not. IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) is a protein that is expected to maintain a healthy balance of IGF-1 in the body. Free IGF-1 is unregulated and can induce growth that is out of control when levels of IGF binding protein (IGFBP) are low.

2) A factor in the development of acne

Acne in adult men and women may be influenced by elevated levels of IGF-1. Although IGF-1 seems to have a more significant impact on acne in women, testosterone and androgens may have a more significant influence on acne in males.

IGF-1 Evaluations

At this time, the IGF-1 blood test is only authorised for use in the diagnosis of growth hormone insufficiency. Determine with the help of your physician whether or whether an IGF-1 test is required in your particular circumstance.

A significant amount of more investigation will be necessary before this can be utilised as a diagnostic tool for any of the other disorders that will be covered later. However, researchers have discovered these links, and because we believe it is worthwhile to look at where the study is headed, we are providing them for the interest and knowledge of our readers.

Diseases and Their Ranges

Prostate Cancer

Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer:

Higher Overall Risk of Disease or Mortality:

IGF-1 levels that are roughly 70 – 80 or below are related with an overall higher risk of disease or death. This is because lower IGF-1 levels indicate that the body is producing less of the growth factor.

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