Hepatocyte differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis are affected by growth factors produced in liver. Insulin-like growth factor 1 and 2 (IGF1 and IGF2) act in response to growth hormone (GH). Other IGF family components include at least six binding proteins (IGFBP1 to 6), manifested by both IGFs develop due to interaction through the type 1 receptor (IGF1R). The data based on animal models and/or in vitro studies suggest the role of IGF system components in cellular aspects of hepatocarcinogenesis (cell cycle progression, uncontrolled proliferation, cell survival, migration, inhibition of apoptosis, protein synthesis and cell growth), and show that systemic IGF1 administration can reduce fibrosis and ameliorate general liver function. In epidemiologic and clinicopathological studies on chronic liver disease (CLD), lowered serum levels, decreased tissue expression of IGF1, elevated production of IGF1R and variable IGF2 expression has been noted, from the start of preneoplastic alterations up to the developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) stage. These changes result in well-known clinical symptoms of IGF1 deficiency. This review summarized the current data of the complex role of IGF system components in the most common CLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma). Better recognition and understanding of this system can contribute to discovery of new and improved versions of current preventive and therapeutic actions in CLD.
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