Diabetes-induced growth retardation in the rodent is associated with both reduced circulating insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and enhanced levels of inhibitors of somatomedin activity. IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) are present in the circulation and tissue fluids and are believed to modulate the actions of IGF-I. Since elevated concentrations of the IGFBPs may contribute to the enhanced somatomedin-inhibitor activity observed in serum from diabetic animals, we have examined the amounts of hepatic IGFBP-1, -2, -3 and -4 mRNA in the spontaneously diabetic BioBreeding/Worcester rat.
The study used two types of diabetic animal: mildly diabetic animals, which received suboptimal insulin treatment (0.5–1 U/day) and diabetic animals, which received intensive insulin treatment (3–6 U/day). A significant increase in the amount of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 mRNA was seen 1 month and 3 months after the onset of diabetes. Intensive insulin treatment for 3 weeks normalized the amount of IGFBP-1 mRNA in diabetic rats and resulted in a decrease in IGFBP-2 mRNA. In contrast to the increase in IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 mRNA, a significant decrease in IGFBP-3 mRNA was seen in diabetic rats (54.6% of control, P < 0.0005 and 64.6% of control, P < 0.005 for 1 and 3 months respectively) and intensive insulin treatment for 3 weeks did not restore the IGFBP-3 mRNA level in diabetic rats. No significant difference in IGFBP-4 mRNA levels was seen in diabetic compared with non-diabetic rats. When serum was analysed by ligand blotting the major finding was a reduction in the 39–42kDa binding protein. No increase in 29–30kDa IGFBP in the serum was detected in the diabetic rats. From these studies we conclude that the major change in IGFBPs in mildly hyperglycaemic spontaneously diabetic rats is a decrease in IGFBP-3. The changes in hepatic IGFBP-1 and -2 mRNA do not appear to be of sufficient magnitude to result in an increase in serum concentrations of these binding proteins.