IGF-1 and Cardiovascular Health

Recent advances in the field of cardiology have focused on proliferation and regeneration as potential cardiovascular defense mechanisms. Endothelial dysfunction (malfunctioning of the inner lining of blood vessels known as endothelium) is considered an initial step in the development of atherosclerotic lesions (plaque build-up), through activation of a suicidal pathway that leads to programmed cell death of endothelial cells known as apoptosis. [187] IGF-1 can directly oppose endothelial dysfunction in several ways:

By increasing the production of nitric oxide, thereby improving blood flow to the heart. [188]

By promoting insulin sensitivity[189]

By promoting potassium-channel opening [190]

By improving lipid profiles [191]

Through IGF-1’s anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory properties. [192-195]
A large body of research has linked IGF-1 levels and prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. For instance, a cross-sectional study of 122 young subjects revealed that low level of IGF-1 is associated with coronary artery disease (CAD). [196-197] A prospective, nested, case-control study involving more than 600 healthy individuals with 15 years follow-up period showed that lower circulating IGF-1 levels are associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease. [198] In patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), IGF-1 levels on hospital admission were markedly reduced and were significantly lower in those with a worse prognosis. [199] These observations uniformly support the possibility that IGF-1 deficiency may increase one’s risk for cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, several research groups have studied the effects of IGF-1 in patients with impaired cardiac function. IGF-1 is known to induce vasodilation, thereby contributing to regulation of vascular tone and arterial blood pressure, as well as preservation of coronary blood flow. [200] Other studies also support that IGF-1 supplementation in patients with heart disease may help improve heart function by boosting the heart’s pumping power, thus improving blood circulation. [201-210] These beneficial effects of IGF-1 supplementation can help prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases and help treat its related symptoms.

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