We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is IGF-1?

By Leo Zimmermann
Updated Jan 22, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), sometimes called somatomedin C, is a hormone that promotes growth and prevents cell death. It is structurally similar to insulin, as well as to insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2). This hormone is used across the lifespan of a human organism, but becomes most prominent during childhood and adolescence. Many animals—including mammals, birds, and fish—seem to use IGF-1 to regulate cell growth. It is produced in the liver, usually as a consequence of signals from growth hormone.

IGF-1 binds to two types of receptors on the outer surface of cellular membranes: the IGF-1 receptor (IGF1R) and the insulin receptor. Both of these are members of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) class II. The primary and unique effects of the hormone take place through IGF1R, which, when activated, triggers a chemical sequence called the AKT pathway. This process, revolving around a protein called AKT, has significant effects on the life and death of the cell. It seems this hormone has the effect of inhibiting programmed cell death. This explains its double-sided role as a stimulus to tissue growth and as an accessory to cancer.

A chemical resemblance to insulin also allows IGF-1 to active the insulin receptor. This protein triggers a process that ultimately causes a cell to take in more glucose from the bloodstream. IGF-1 does not bind to or activate the insulin receptor as effectively as insulin itself.

The effects of the hormone can be modulated by a series of six or seven proteins called insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs). IGFBP-2 and and IGFBP-5 inhibit its effects by preventing it from binding to a cellular receptor. IGFBP-3, the most common of these proteins, prolongs the life of IGF molecules.

Excess of IGF-1 and IGF1R is associated with several types of diseases. Breast and prostate cancers may be caused by a failure of cell death connected to this chemical system. Gigantism and acromegaly, which causes unnatural growth and swelling in the body, may also be connected to an excess of this molecule. Because it is correlated with growth hormone, these problems may result originally from excesses in growth hormone. Doctors suspecting these conditions may take measurements of IGF-1 for diagnostic purposes, since these usually also reflect the production of growth hormone.

Synthetic IGF-1, known as mecasermin, is used as a treatment for hormonal growth deficiency. Several different companies have attempted to create and release versions of this drug, with various levels of scientific and legal success. The hormone is also marketed as a steroid for body-building.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By seag47 — On Feb 05, 2013

@cloudel – I would definitely recommend it. When teens actually have this deficiency, it can do them so much good, both physically and psychologically.

I knew a boy in junior high who was only 4'9” tall. He looked so frail, and he wasn't developing at all.

His parents got him on an IGF-1 regimen, and he started growing. He didn't just get taller, though. His bones and muscles grew so that he looked healthy.

By the time we graduated, he was 5'9” tall! I never would have imagined that someone so tiny could grow into this.

By cloudel — On Feb 05, 2013

Does anyone have an opinion on giving children the IGF-1 growth hormone? I have a good friend whose daughter is fourteen and is considering taking the hormone to help her grow. She is so short that she looks like she belongs in elementary school, and her doctor has determined that she has a growth hormone deficiency.

I just wonder if it would work. I know she desperately wants to look like the other teens.

By kylee07drg — On Feb 04, 2013

@shell4life – I agree with you that taking IGF-1 does sound scary. I know that our bodies make it naturally, and I don't think that the amount of it we have inside is harmful. However, when we go adding more to our bodies, I think we run the risk of doing harm.

However, my brother doesn't see it this way. He takes IGF-1 for bodybuilding purposes. It has helped him beef up, because it keeps his muscle tissue from breaking down and speeds up his metabolism.

I don't think that having a perfect physique is worth the risk of getting cancer. He just doesn't think that IGF-1 could possibly cause anything bad to happen to him, since it has done him so much good.

By shell4life — On Feb 04, 2013

I would be scared to use injections of the IGF-1 hormone. Some people use it to make them appear younger when they are aging, but considering the fact that it makes cells grow and keeps them from dying, it just sounds too much like a way to get cancer to me.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.