The insulin/IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) axis is important in coordinating insulin- and IGF-mediated regulation of glucose metabolism and glycemia. Dysregulation of the axis may play a role in the pathophysiology of disorders of insulin deficiency and resistance. We have investigated this hypothesis by generating transgenic mice that overexpress hIGFBP-1. To study the axis in its true physiological context, we used a human (h) IGFBP-1 cosmid clone so that transgene expression is responsive to normal hormonal stimuli. hIGFBP-1 mRNA is expressed in a tissue-specific fashion, and measurement of serum protein levels by specific immunoassay indicates normal physiological regulation in response to fasting/feeding and appropriate post-translational modification as indicated by the detection of phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated isoforms of the protein. The hypoglycemic response to exogenous IGF-I is attenuated in transgenic mice. Transgenic mice exhibit an enhanced insulin secretory response to a glucose challenge, although basal and stimulated blood glucose levels are similar to controls. There is a sexual dimorphism in phenotypic expression: male transgenic mice had higher stimulated glucose and insulin levels than did females. Transgenic mice exhibit fasting hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia and glucose intolerance in later life, indicating an age-related decline in glucocompetence. These findings demonstrate the importance of the normal inverse relationship between serum insulin and IGFBP-1 levels in glucoregulation and that sustained dysregulation of the insulin/IGF-I/IGFBP-1 axis is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and abnormalities of insulin action.

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