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Insulin-like growth factor-I gene delivery to astrocytes reduces their inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide

Maria J Bellini1, Claudia B Hereñú2, Rodolfo G Goya2 and Luis M Garcia-Segura1*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Cajal, CSIC, Madrid, Spain

2 INIBIOLP-Histology B, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of La Plata, CC 455, 1900, La Plata, Argentina

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2011, 8:21  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-8-21

Published: 3 March 2011



Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) exerts neuroprotective actions in the central nervous system that are mediated at least in part by control of activation of astrocytes. In this study we have assessed the efficacy of exogenous IGF-I and IGF-I gene therapy in reducing the inflammatory response of astrocytes from cerebral cortex.


An adenoviral vector harboring the rat IGF-I gene and a control adenoviral vector harboring a hybrid gene encoding the herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase fused to Aequorea victoria enhanced green fluorescent protein were used in this study. Primary astrocytes from mice cerebral cortex were incubated for 24 h or 72 h with vehicle, IGF-I, the IGF-I adenoviral vector, or control vector; and exposed to bacterial lipopolysaccharide to induce an inflammatory response. IGF-I levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. Levels of interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β and toll-like receptor 4 mRNA were assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Levels of IGF-I receptor and IGF binding proteins 2 and 3 were assessed by western blotting. The subcellular distribution of nuclear factor κB (p65) was assessed by immunocytochemistry. Statistical significance was assessed by one way analysis of variance followed by the Bonferroni pot hoc test.


IGF-I gene therapy increased IGF-I levels without affecting IGF-I receptors or IGF binding proteins. Exogenous IGF-I, and IGF-I gene therapy, decreased expression of toll-like receptor 4 and counteracted the lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory response of astrocytes. In addition, IGF-I gene therapy decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced translocation of nuclear factor κB (p65) to the cell nucleus.


These findings demonstrate efficacy of exogenous IGF-I and of IGF-I gene therapy in reducing the inflammatory response of astrocytes. IGF-I gene therapy may represent a new approach to reduce inflammatory reactions in glial cells.