Studies in diabetic rodents and humans provide evidence that IGF-I may alleviate the diabetic state and insulin resistance to some degree. To assess the efficacy of IGFs as an adjunct treatment with insulin in diabetes, we infused IGF-I or des(1–3)IGF-I for 7 days at 0, 10.7, 26.7, and 66.8 nmol/day to streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats in conjunction with infusions of 0, 2.2, 5.6, or 14 nmol/day insulin. Both insulin and des(1–3)IGF-I increased body weight gain by 7 g/day compared with controls (1.2 g/day), but there was no additive effect. However, for nitrogen retention, the effects of des(1–3)IGF-I were additive with those of 2.2 nmol/day insulin. Des(1–3)IGF-I was two- to threefold more potent than IGF-I. At comparable rates of total nitrogen retention, carcass nitrogen retention was ∼ 35% higher with insulin than with IGF treatment, indicating a differential tissue response. IGFs did not alter carcass fat content. Des(1–3)IGF-I increased liver glycogen additively with insulin but reduced glucosuria only when given with 5.6 nmol insulin per day, indicating the possibility of a facilitatory effect, perhaps via increased insulin sensitivity. Insulin was 10- to 25-fold more potent in these glucoregulatory actions. Differential effects of the hormones were also observed for kidney, liver, and thymus weights. We conclude that IGFs and especially the more potent des(1–3)IGF-I may have a role as an adjunct to insulin therapy in diabetic patients.

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