IGF-1 or insulin like growth factor 1 is the protein which is encoded by IGF1 gene. It has been called as the sulfation factor and it is the hormone that is similar to molecular structure like the insulin. It plays a crucial role in growth in children and continues to have the anabolic effect in case of adults. Mecasermin, which is a synthetic analog of IGF-1, is used in treating growth failure.



Why is it important for our body?

What more, IGF-1 plays a very important role when it comes to muscle regeneration. It stimulates proliferation as well as differentiation of the stem cells in the autocrine paracrine way though it induces the differentiation to a greater level. IGF-1, when it is injected locally, increases the activity and functioning of the satellite cell, muscle protein content, muscle DNA, muscle cross-sectional area and muscle weight. The actual importance of this protein lies in the fact that all of its functions act towards inducing muscle growth- with or without the extra load, though it shines brightly as a growth promoter when mixed with a physical load of muscles.

Functions and uses

Further, IGF-1 even acts as endocrine growth factor with an anabolic effect on the distant tissue once it is released in the bloodstream by liver. IGF-1 has special insulin like property that inhibits degradation but also it can stimulate protein synthesis. The insulin like effects is due to a similarity of signaling pathways between IGF-1 and insulin following the ligand binding at receptors.

What is IGF-1

What is IGF-1


The actual way that circulating IGF-1 is thought to kick start the growth of muscle is through binding to the receptor that is found on the muscle cells membrane, where it actually sets off the series of events leading to an increase in muscle protein growth. Binding IGF-1 to the receptor further reduces the breakdown of muscle protein. And muscle protein is shredded as well as built up constantly. A reduction in muscle protein breakdown with boost in synthesis further leads to growth.

IGF-1 Functions

IGF-1 Functions

Benefits of IGF-1

There are a lot of benefits of IGF-1 including:

  • It increases antioxidants and helps in anti-aging
  • IGF-1 decreases autoimmunity and inflammation
  • It helps to protect against heart problems
  • It is good for your brain and improves the blood sugar balance
  • It further promotes height and growth and creates bigger muscles

More than this, IGF-1 increases glutathione peroxidase, the crucial antioxidant enzyme and further safeguards the cells that are exposed to radiation through preventing the cell death and by increasing the antioxidants.

Scientific evidence supporting IGF-1 and its effects

IGF-1 even boosts your cognitive function. A study that was published in Neuroscience examined the link between serum IGF-1 as well as cognitive functioning in the healthy adults. A positive relation was revealed between memory, executive control, IGF-1 and selective attention. As per the study, the evidence said that the relationship is explained by the neuro-protective effect of IGF-1. Also, the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus contain the IGF-1 receptors that are linked with cognitive abilities.

Another study published in British Journal of Nutrition explored the IGF-1 effects when it comes to alleviating the metabolic syndrome like mellitus and diabetes. The study was actually conducted with mice but the researchers concluded that IGF is effective for even human patients who have diabetes. Yet another study supports IGF-1 being a vascular protective element and beneficial for treating the conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic heart failure. Higher levels of IGF-1 are linked with better bone mineral density in case of older women.


We also know that IGF-1 is the promoter of bone growth and as IGF-1 promotes bone density, it even requires more bone strength. When the levels of IGF-1 are low in the body, there is a higher level of inflammation. IGF-1 helps to combat the problem of autoimmunity by increasing the T Regulatory Cells and further reduces the MHCI gene expression. Well, the activity and functioning of growth hormone is dependent on IGF-1 and so IGF-1 deficiency causes some insensitivity to growth hormone and its overall effects on repair and growth. It further helps to restore the height in kids who have IGF deficiency.


So, these are all the effects, benefits and everything about IGF-1 that one must be aware of.