40 years of IGF1: Insulin-like growth factors: Actions on the skeleton

Shoshana Yakar, Haim Werner, Clifford J. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The discovery of the growth hormone (GH)-mediated somatic factors (somatomedins), insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and -II, has elicited an enormous interest primarily among endocrinologists who study growth and metabolism. The advancement of molecular endocrinology over the past four decades enables investigators to re-examine and refine the established somatomedin hypothesis. Specifically, gene deletions, transgene overexpression or more recently, cell-specific gene-ablations, have enabled investigators to study the effects of the Igf1 and Igf2 genes in temporal and spatial manners. The GH/IGF axis, acting in an endocrine and autocrine/paracrine fashion, is the major axis controlling skeletal growth. Studies in rodents have clearly shown that IGFs regulate bone length of the appendicular skeleton evidenced by changes in chondrocytes of the proliferative and hypertrophic zones of the growth plate. IGFs affect radial bone growth and regulate cortical and trabecular bone properties via their effects on osteoblast, osteocyte and osteoclast function. Interactions of the IGFs with sex steroid hormones and the parathyroid hormone demonstrate the significance and complexity of the IGF axis in the skeleton. Finally, IGFs have been implicated in skeletal aging. Decreases in serum IGFs during aging have been correlated with reductions in bone mineral density and increased fracture risk. This review highlights many of the most relevant studies in the IGF research landscape, focusing in particular on IGFs effects on the skeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T115-T137
JournalJournal of Molecular Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Chondrocyte
  • Insulin-like
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteoclast
  • Osteocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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