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Biological roles of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs)


The insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP) family is a critical component of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system which regulate the biological actions of the IGFs and may also be capable of IGF-independent actions. To date, seven distinct IGFBPs have been described. Among these IGFBPs, IGFBPs-1-6 bind IGFs with high affinity, while only IGFBP-7 binds with low affinity. Recently, we have demonstrated that connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) also binds IGFs with low affinity, suggesting that a family of low-affinity IGFBPs, distinct from the high-affinity members, may exist, and together these constitute an IGFBP superfamily. IGFBPs have various biological roles. IGFBPs act not only as a carrier proteins, but also as a modulators of IGF actions by involving in IGF ligand-receptor interactions through influences on both the bioavailability and distribution of IGFs in the extracellular environment. In addition, some IGFBPs (IGFBPs-1, -3, and -5) appears to have intrinsic activity independent of IGFs. This review will focus on recent studies on the biological roles of IGFBPs in IGF-dependent and IGF-independent modes.

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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kim, HS., Rosenfeld, R. & Oh, Y. Biological roles of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs). Exp Mol Med 29, 85–96 (1997).

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  • insulin-like growth factors
  • insulin-like growth factor binding proteins
  • connective tissue growth factor
  • review literature

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