Circulating insulin-like growth factor I modulates mood and is a biomarker of vulnerability to stress: from mouse to man

A. Santi, M. Bot, A. Aleman, B. W.J.H. Penninx, I. Torres Aleman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Individual susceptibility to anxiety disorders after maladaptive responses to stress is not well understood. We now report that while exploring stress responses in mice after traumatic brain injury (TBI), a condition associated to stress susceptibility, we observed that the anxiogenic effects of either TBI or exposure to life-threatening experiences (predator) were blocked when both stressors were combined. Because TBI increases the entrance into the brain of serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), a known modulator of anxiety with a wide range of concentrations in the human population, we then determined whether circulating IGF-I is related to anxiety measures. In mice, anxiety-like responses to predator were inversely related to circulating IGF-I levels. Other indicators of mood regulation such as sensitivity to dexamethasone suppression and expression levels of blood and brain FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5), a co-chaperone of the glucocorticoid receptor that regulates its activity, were also associated to circulating IGF-I. Indeed, brain FKBP5 expression in mice was stimulated by IGF-I. In addition, we observed in a large human cohort (n = 2686) a significant relationship between plasma IGF-I and exposure to recent stressful life events, while FKBP5 expression in blood cells was significantly associated to plasma IGF-I levels. Collectively, these data indicate that circulating IGF-I appears to be involved in mood homeostasis across different species. Furthermore, the data in mice allow us to indicate that IGF-I may be acting at least in part by modulating FKBP5 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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