High levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) have been associated with a significant increase in colon cancer risk. Additionally, IGF-1 inhibits apoptosis and stimulates proliferation of colonic epithelial cells in vitro. Unfortunately, IGF-1 knockout mice have severe developmental abnormalities and most do not survive, making it difficult to study how genetic ablation of IGF-1 affects colon tumorigenesis. To test the hypothesis that inhibition of IGF-1 prevents colon tumorigenesis, we utilized a preexisting mouse model containing a deletion of the igf1 gene in the liver through a Cre/loxP system. These liver-specific IGF-1 deficient (LID) mice display a 50–75% reduction in circulating IGF-1 levels. We conducted a pilot study to assess the impact of liver-specific IGF-1 deficiency on azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon tumors. LID mice had a significant inhibition of colon tumor multiplicity in the proximal area of the colon compared to their wild-type littermates. We examined markers of proliferation and apoptosis in the colons of the LID and wild-type mice to see if these were consistent with tumorigenesis. We observed a decrease in proliferation in the colons of the LID mice and an increase in apoptosis. Finally, we examined cytokine levels to determine whether IGF-1 interacts with inflammatory pathways to affect colon tumorigenesis. We observed a significant reduction in the levels of 7 out of 10 cytokines that were measured in the LID mice as compared to wild-type littermates. Results from this pilot study support the hypothesis that reductions in circulating IGF-1 levels may prevent colon tumorigenesis and affect both proliferation and apoptosis. Future experiments will investigate downstream genes of the IGF-1 receptor. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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