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JA Koedam, CM Hoogerbrugge, and SC Van Buul-Offers

Cartilage is a primary target tissue for the IGFs. The mitogenic activity of these peptides is regulated by a family of high-affinity IGF-binding proteins (IGFBP-1 to -6). We characterized the IGFBPs produced by cultured chondrocytes derived from rib cartilage of prepubertal rabbits. Culture medium, which had been conditioned by these cells for 48 h showed bands of 22 kDa, 24 kDa and a 31/32 kDa doublet by Western ligand blotting with [(125)I]IGF-II. When the cells were grown in the presence of increasing amounts of IGF-I or IGF-II, the 31/32 kDa doublet increased in intensity (reaching a plateau of about 11-fold stimulation between 2 and 10 nM IGF-I). The 22 kDa and 24 kDa bands increased only slightly while a 26 kDa band became faintly visible. By Western immunoblotting the 31/32 kDa doublet was identified as IGFBP-5. An IGF-I analog with reduced affinity for IGFBPs, Long-R3 IGF-I, also induced IGFBP-5, while insulin was less effective (2.2-fold stimulation at 10 nM). IGF-I protected IGFBP-5 against proteolytic degradation by conditioned medium. IGF-I also enhanced the level of IGFBP-5 mRNA. LY294002, a specific inhibitor of the intracellular signaling molecule phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, inhibited stimulation of IGFBP-5 by IGF-I. Dexamethasone suppressed IGFBP-5 (by 70% at 20 nM) but, at the same time, a 39/41 kDa doublet (presumably IGFBP-3) was induced. IGFBP-5 has been shown in several cell types to enhance the mitogenic activity of IGF-I. IGFBP-3 generally acts as a growth inhibitor. Therefore, the differential effects of dexamethasone on these regulatory proteins could account, at least in part, for the growth-arresting effect of this glucocorticoid.

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JA Koedam, CM Hoogerbrugge, and SC van Buul-Offers

Partial proteolysis of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) lowers its affinity for IGFs. Presumably, this leads to destabilization of the ternary IGF-IGFBP-3-acid-labile subunit complex in the circulation and an increased bioavailability of IGFs. We investigated the effect of GH on IGFBP-3 proteolysis by comparing serum from normal mice and GH-deficient dwarf mice. While normal mouse serum degraded 125I-IGFBP-3, this activity declined with age. In contrast, serum from dwarf mice displayed strong proteolytic activity at all ages tested (up to 10 weeks). In dwarf mice of 4 weeks and older, this activity could not be inhibited by EDTA and 1,10-phenanthroline, indicating the presence of a divalent cation-independent protease. Prolonged treatment with GH (4 weeks) did not decrease the overall potency of the serum to degrade IGFBP-3, but partially restored the ability of EDTA to inhibit IGFBP-3 protease activity. GH deficiency therefore appears to induce a new kind of IGFBP-3 protease. Similarly, serum from hypophysectomized rats displayed enhanced IGFBP-3 protease activity compared with control rat serum. These results suggest that a protease induced under conditions of severe GH deficiency may contribute to making IGFs optimally available to the tissues.

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CM Reijnders, JG Koster, and SC van Buul-Offers

The insulin-like growth factors, IGF-I and IGF-II, and their binding proteins play an important role in the growth and development of the central nervous system. In the brain, colocalization of IGFs and IGFBPs often occurs, suggesting that IGFBPs can modulate IGF action. In one strain of our human (h)IGF-II transgenic mice, which carry an hIGF-II transgene driven by the H-2Kb promoter, we found overexpression of hIGF-II in the brain, as measured by Northern blot analysis. To clarify the localization and influence of the hIGF-II transgene on different components of the GH-IGF axis in the brain, we studied the expression pattern of the hIGF-II transgene, endogenous IGF-I and IGF-II, and IGFBP-2, -3 and -5 in the brain of prepubertal 4-week-old mice, using nonradioactive in situ hybridization. We found that the hIGF-II transgene is exclusively expressed in neurons of the piriform cortex, the cerebral cortex, the medulla oblongata and the granular layer of the cerebellum. In general, this pattern is comparable to the expression pattern of endogenous IGF-I, with a few exceptions: there is no expression of IGF-I in the granular layer of the cerebellum, whereas the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum and thalamus both express IGF-I but no hIGF-II transgene. This hIGF-II transgene expression pattern contrasts markedly with endogenous IGF-II expression, which is mainly located in nonneuronal cells such as the meninges and choroid plexus, and in some nuclei of the medulla oblongata. The hIGF-II transgene affects neither endogenous IGF-I and IGF-II expression, nor the expression of IGFBP-3, which is located in the choroid plexus. Although the hIGF-II transgene is expressed in neuronal structures similar to IGF-I and IGFBP-5, it is not able to regulate IGFBP-5 expression, as has previously been reported for IGF-I. In the medulla oblongata, the IGFBP-2 expression level showed 10-fold upregulation by the transgene, suggesting a modulating role for IGFBP-2 at the hIGF-II transgene action in this region.

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JJ Smink, JA Koedam, JG Koster, and SC van Buul-Offers

High (pharmacological) doses of glucocorticoids inhibit the proliferation of growth plate chondrocytes, which leads to one of the side-effects of these steroids, namely suppression of longitudinal growth. Growth inhibition by glucocorticoids is thought to be mediated in part by impaired action of components of the IGF axis, which are important for chondrocyte regulation and hence for longitudinal growth. The aim of the present study was to determine whether glucocorticoid-induced growth retardation involves changes in IGF axis components. Chondrocytes were isolated from epiphyseal growth plates of neonatal piglets and treated with pharmacological doses of dexamethasone (DXM) for 24 h to study glucocorticoid-induced growth retardation. Under IGF-I-supplemented (10 nM) culture conditions, IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs)-2, -4 and -5 were secreted by the growth plate chondrocytes and IGFBP-2 protein and mRNA levels were decreased by the DXM treatment, whereas IGFBP-4 and -5 were not affected. Proliferation of the chondrocytes, as measured by [(3)H]thymidine incorporation, was 3.5-fold higher in serum-supplemented medium in contrast to IGF-I-supplemented (10 nM) medium. In the presence of serum, DNA synthesis was significantly inhibited by 50-63% when treated with 100 nM DXM, which was prevented by the glucocorticoid-receptor antagonist Org34116. mRNA levels of IGF axis components were determined using Northern blot analysis. IGFBP-2 to -6 were expressed in the chondrocytes, IGFBP-1 was absent and both IGF-I and IGF-II, and the type I and type II IGF receptors were expressed. Treatment with DXM (100 nM) resulted in a 2-fold increase in mRNA levels of both IGFBP-5 and the type I IGF receptor, whereas IGFBP-2 mRNA levels decreased by 55%, in concert with the decrease in protein level observed under IGF-I-supplemented culture conditions. The changes in mRNA levels due to the DXM treatment were prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist. Our data show that exposure to pharmacological doses of DXM results in inhibition of proliferation and changes in components of the IGF axis, IGFBP-2 and -5 and the type I IGF receptor, suggesting a role for these components in glucocorticoid-induced growth retardation at the local level of the growth plate.

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R Rooman, G Koster, R Bloemen, R Gresnigt, and SC van Buul-Offers

The physiological role of IGF-II remains unclear but there is evidence for a role in postnatal growth, the growth of the thymus and bone homeostasis. Glucocorticoids have many effects that are opposite to the effects of IGF-II such as growth retardation, osteoporosis and thymic involution. We therefore wondered whether IGF-II overexpression in transgenic mice might counteract some of the growth inhibitory effects of the glucocorticoid, dexamethasone (DXM). In a dose-finding study in normal mice, 20 microg DXM/day caused a significant growth delay. The various organs had a different susceptibility to the growth inhibitory effects of DXM. Most affected were thymus and spleen, followed by liver, skeletal muscle and lumbar vertebrae. The weights of the kidney, tibia, and humerus were not significantly diminished. In a second experiment, the effects of DXM in normal and IGF-II-transgenic animals were compared. The IGF-II serum levels in the transgenic animals were more than 40-fold increased compared with control mice and were decreased by 35% in the DXM-treated group. IGF-I serum levels were identical in both mouse strains and rose slightly after DXM administration in controls. Transgenic mice had higher levels of IGF binding protein species of apparent molecular masses of 41.5 kDa, 30 kDa, and 26.5 kDa. DXM reduced the 24 kDa band in both mice strains. In addition it reduced the bands at 38.5 kDa and 26.5 kDa but only in the transgenic animals. The effect of DXM on body growth was similar in normal and IGF-II-transgenic mice. The weight reduction of the various organs caused by DXM was similar in both types of mice except for the skeleton. The weight of the tibia and the humerus were significantly higher in the DXM-treated transgenic mice. In conclusion, we speculate that overexpression of IGF-II in mice partially protects bone from the osteopenic effects of glucocorticoids.

Restricted access

R Kooijman, SC van Buul-Offers, LE Scholtens, RG Reijnen-Gresnigt, and BJ Zegers

Treatment of mice with IGF-I stimulates T and B cell development. We showed that overexpression of IGF-II in transgenic FVB/N mice only stimulated T cell development. In the present study, we further addressed the in vivo effects of IGF-II in the absence of IGF-I to get more insight into the potential abilities of IGF-II to influence T and B cell development. To this end, we studied lymphocyte development in IGF-II transgenic Snell dwarf mice that are prolactin, GH and thyroid-stimulating hormone deficient and as a consequence show low serum IGF-I levels. We showed that T cell development was stimulated to the same extent as in IGF-II transgenic FVB/N mice. Furthermore, IGF-II increased the number of nucleated bone marrow cells and the number of immature B cells without having an effect on the number of mature B cells in spleen and bone marrow. Our data show that IGF-II has preferential effects on T cell development compared with B development, and that these preferential effects also occur in the absence of measurable IGF-I levels.

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JJ Smink, JG Koster, MG Gresnigt, R Rooman, JA Koedam, and SC Van Buul-Offers

Glucocorticoid (GC) treatment in childhood can lead to suppression of longitudinal growth as a side effect. The actions of GCs are thought to be mediated in part by impaired action of the insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) and their binding proteins (IGFBP-1 to -6). We have studied the effects of GCs on IGF and IGFBP expression at the local level of the growth plate, using non-radioactive in situ hybridization. We treated 3-week-old normal mice for 4 weeks with dexamethasone (DXM). We also treated human IGF-II (hIGF-II) transgenic mice in order to investigate whether IGF-II could protect against the growth retarding effect of this GC. DXM treatment resulted in general growth retardation in both mice strains, however, only in normal mice was tibial length decreased. In both normal and hIGF-II trangenic mice, the total width of the growth plate was not affected, whereas the width of the proliferative zone decreased as a result of the DXM treatment. Additionally, only in normal mice, the width of the hypertrophic zone thickened. Only expression of IGF-I, IGF-II and IGFBP-2 could be detected in the growth plates of 7-week-old normal mice. IGFBP-1, -3, -4, -5 and -6 mRNAs were not detected. DXM treatment of normal mice induced a significant 2.4-fold increase in the number of cells expressing IGF-I mRNA, whereas IGF-II and IGFBP-2 mRNA levels were not affected. In hIGF-II transgenic mice, IGF-I mRNA levels were significantly increased, while endogenous IGF-II and IGFBP-2 mRNAs were unaffected, compared to normal animals. DXM treatment of the hIGF-II transgenic mice induced a further increase of IGF-I mRNA expression, to a similar extent as in DXM-treated normal mice. The increase of IGF-I due to DXM treatment in normal mice might be a reaction in order to minimize the GC-induced growth retardation. Another possibility could be that the increase of IGF-I would contribute to the GC-induced growth retardation by accelerating the differentiation of chondrocytes, resulting in accelerated ossification. In the growth plates of hIGF-II transgenic mice, the higher basal level of IGF-I, might be responsible for the observed partial protection against the adverse effects of GCs on bone.

Free access

JJ Smink, MG Gresnigt, N Hamers, JA Koedam, R Berger, and SC Van Buul-Offers

The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system is an important mediator of postnatal longitudinal growth, and the growth inhibiting effects of glucocorticoid (GC) treatment are suggested to be due to impaired action of the IGF system. However, the precise changes of the IGFs and the IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) in the growth plate, occurring upon short-term GC treatment have not been characterized. Prepubertal mice treated daily with dexamethasone (DXM) for 7 days, showed significant growth inhibition of total body length and weight and weight of the liver, thymus and spleen, whereas the weight of the kidneys was not affected. Analysis of the tibial growth plate showed that the total growth plate width significantly decreased to 84.5% of control values, caused by a significant decrease in the proliferative zone. The number of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-positive chondrocytes in the proliferative zone decreased significantly (to 40%) and TUNEL staining showed a significant 1.6-fold increase in apoptotic hypertrophic chondrocytes. In the growth plates, both IGF-I and IGF-II, as well as IGFBP-2 mRNAs were detected, mainly in the proliferative and prehypertrophic zones. DXM treatment significantly decreased the number of chondrocytes expressing IGF-I, whereas the number of chondrocytes expressing IGF-II and IGFBP-2 were not affected. The decrease in IGF-I expression in the growth plate indicates that GC treatment affects IGF-I at the local level of the growth plate, which could contribute to the GC-induced growth retardation.

Free access

M van Kleffens, DJ Lindenbergh-Kortleve, JG Koster, JW van Neck, A Flyvbjerg, R Rasch, SL Drop, and SC van Buul-Offers

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) is generally believed to inhibit IGF action in the circulation. In contrast, IGFBP-1 has been reported to interact with cell surfaces and enhance IGF-I action locally in some tissues. Renal IGFBP-1 levels are found elevated in various conditions characterized by renal growth (e.g. diabetes mellitus, hypokalemia). To test whether IGFBP-1 is a renotropic factor, IGFBP-1 was administered alone or in combination with IGF-I to Snell dwarf mice, an in vivo model without compensatory feedback effects on growth hormone (GH) secretion. In three control groups of Snell dwarf mice, placebo, GH or IGF-I was administered. Compared with placebo, kidney weight increased in all treated groups, however, with different effects on kidney morphology. Administration of IGF-I, alone or in combination with IGFBP-1, tended to increase glomerular volume, while no changes were seen in the other groups. Administration of IGFBP-1 or IGFBP-1+IGF-I both caused dilatation of the thin limbs of Henle's loop, while GH or IGF-I administration had no visible effect. Furthermore, IGF-I administration resulted in an increased mean number of nuclei per cortical area and renal weight, whereas GH, IGF-I+IGFBP-1 or IGFBP-1 caused a decreased renal nuclei number. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed specific changes of the renal IGF system expression patterns in the different groups. Particularly, IGFBP-1 administration resulted in extensive changes in the mRNA expression of the renal IGF system, whereas the other administration regimen resulted in less prominent modifications. In contrast, administration of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-1+IGF-I resulted in identical changes in the protein expression of the renal IGF system. Our results indicate that IGFBP-1, alone or in combination with IGF-I, demonstrated effects on the renal tubular system that differ from the effects of IGF-I.

Restricted access

M.C. Slootweg, S.C. van Buul-Offers, M.P.M. Herrmann-Erlee, J.M. van der Meer, and S.A. Duursma


More evidence has recently been obtained indicating that growth hormone (GH) has a direct effect on bone. However, it is not clear which cell type reacts to the hormone. The present study used osteoblast-like cells derived from sequentially digested fetal mouse calvaria. Separately cultured tractions resulted in populations enriched in cells with a more or a less differentiated phenotype. The results showed that GH acts on the cells released last, i.e. those with more characteristics of the osteoblast. In these cells, GH induced strong mitogenic activity. Prolactin was not active.