Dietary potassium (K) depletion is known to reduce body weight gain and organ growth, except for kidney which increases in weight. This renal hypertrophy is preceded by increased renal IGF-I levels. In the present study, we investigated IGF-I and -II, type I IGF receptor and IGF-binding protein (IGFBP) mRNA expression in liver and kidney of K-depleted and normal rats infused with vehicle or recombinant human IGF-I. Body weight gain was almost completely arrested in K-depleted rats without any stimulatory effect of IGF-I infusion. Both absolute and relative kidney weight (kidney weight/body weight) were significantly increased in K-depleted rats and this was further enhanced by IGF-I infusion. In contrast, relative liver weight was comparable in the different groups and unaffected by IGF-I infusion.
IGF-I mRNA expression was significantly lower in kidney and liver of K-depleted animals whereas type I IGF receptor levels were unchanged. In contrast, in kidney, K depletion increased IGFBP-1 and -2 mRNA expression with no additional effect of IGF-I infusion. In liver of K-depleted animals, IGFBP-1 mRNA expression was increased whereas increased IGFBP-1 and -2 mRNA expression was observed when these animals were infused with IGF-I. These observations may point towards a differential mode of action of the IGFBPs. In kidney increased IGFBP-1 and -2 mRNA expression may enhance IGF-I bioavailability with subsequent kidney growth. In liver, with clearly detectable type I IGF receptor mRNA expression, increased IGFBP levels may protect from IGF-I-induced organ growth by decreasing IGF-I bioavailability.