First published June 1, 1986 - More info
Insulinlike growth factors (IGF) act qualitatively like insulin on insulin target tissues in vitro. In the circulation in vivo they are bound to specific carrier proteins. In this form or when continuously infused into hypophysectomized (hypox) rats they do not exert acute insulinlike effects on glucose homeostasis. This study definitively shows that intravenous bolus injections of pure IGF I or II act acutely on glucose homeostasis: they lower the blood sugar, enhance the disappearance of U-[14C]glucose from serum and increase its incorporation into diaphragm glycogen in normal and hypox rats in the presence of antiinsulin serum. The same effects were obtained with recombinant human IGF I injected intravenously either with or without antiinsulin serum into normal rats. Free fatty acid levels decreased transiently only in normal animals. Lipid synthesis from glucose in adipose tissue was not stimulated in hypox and barely stimulated in normal rats. The half-life of injected IGF I or II in normal rats (approximately 4 h) is strikingly different from that in hypophysectomized rats (20-30 min) and appears to depend on the growth hormone-induced 150,000-200,000-mol wt IGF carrier protein that is lacking in hypophysectomized rats. 15 min after the bolus serum IGF I and II concentrations were similar to steady state levels during long-term infusion in hypox rats. Free IGF was barely detectable, however, in the infused animals, whereas 40-100% was found free 15 min after the bolus. These observations for the first time confirm the hypothesis that only free IGF, but not the IGF carrier protein complex, is bioavailable to insulin target tissues.