Insulin-Growth-Factor-1 Could Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

Macrophages that did not respond to IGF-1 could lead to heart attacks, strokes, or death.

A recent study revealed a way to potentially prevent atherosclerosis that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, or death.

Insulin-Growth-Factor-1 (IGF1) can prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries, according to a study published by Circulation.

"The body already works to remove plaque from arteries through certain types of white blood cells called macrophages," said study lead author Yusuke Higashi, PhD. "However, as we age, macrophages are not able to remove plaque from the arteries as easily. Our findings suggest that increasing IGF-1 in macrophages could be the basis for new approaches to reduce clogged arteries and promote plaque stability in aging populations."

In a previous study, the team of researchers administered IGF-1 to mice fed a high-fat diet for 8 weeks, and saw a reduction in plaque compared with mice that did not receive IGF-1.

Since macrophages have a significant impact on the development of atherosclerosis, the researchers examined how IGF-1 effected them.

"Our current study is one of the first ever to examine a link between IGF-1 and macrophages in relation to vascular disease," said Patrice Delafontaine, MD. "We examined mice whose macrophages were unresponsive to IGF-1 and found that their arteries have more plaque buildup than normal mice. These results are consistent with the growing body of evidence that IGF-1 helps prevent plaque formation in the arteries."

They also discovered that unresponsive macrophages weakened plaque in the arteries that could lead to a rupture and a heart attack as a result.

Researchers plan to test their findings in larger animal models that are genetically closer to humans so they can potentially develop IGF-1-based treatments, the study concluded.