Effects of Prednisolone on Serum and Tissue Fluid IGF-I Receptor Activation and Post-Receptor Signaling in Humans

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Short-term glucocorticoid exposure increases serum insulinlike growth factor I (IGF-I) concentrations but antagonizes IGF-I tissue signaling. The underlying mechanisms remain unknown.


To identify at which levels glucocorticoid inhibits IGF-I signaling.

Design and Methods:

Nineteen healthy males received prednisolone (37.5 mg/d) and placebo for 5 days in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study. Serum was collected on days 1, 3, and 5, and abdominal skin suction blister fluid (SBF; ˜interstitial fluid) was taken on day 5 (n = 9) together with muscle biopsy specimens (n = 19). The ability of serum and SBF to activate the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) (bioactive IGF) and its downstream signaling proteins was assessed using IGF-IR-transfected cells.


Prednisolone increased IGF-I concentrations and bioactive IGF in serum (P ≤ 0.001) but not in SBF, which, compared with serum, contained less bioactive IGF (˜28%) after prednisolone (P < 0.05). This observation was unexplained by SBF concentrations of IGFs and IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) 1 to 4. However, following prednisolone treatment, SBF contained less IGFBP-4 fragments (P < 0.05) generated by pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A). Concomitantly, prednisolone increased SBF levels of stanniocalcin 2 (STC2) (P = 0.02) compared with serum. STC2 blocks PAPP-A from cleaving IGFBP-4. Finally, prednisolone suppressed post-IGF-IR signaling pathways at the level of insulin receptor substrate 1 (P < 0.05) but did not change skeletal muscle IGF-IR, IGF-I, or STC2 messenger RNA.


Prednisolone increased IGF-I concentrations and IGF bioactivity in serum but not in tissue fluid. The latter may relate to a STC2-mediated inhibition of PAPP-A in tissue fluids. Furthermore, prednisolone induced post-IGF-IR resistance. Thus, glucocorticoid may exert distinct, compartment-specific effects on IGF action.

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