Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-II regulate brain development and growth through the IGF type 1 receptor (IGF-1R). Less appreciated is that IGF-II, but not IGF-I, activates a splice variant of the insulin receptor (IR) known as IR-A. We hypothesized that IGF-II exerts distinct effects from IGF-I on neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPs) via its interaction with IR-A. Immunofluorescence revealed high IGF-II in the medial region of the subventricular zone (SVZ) comprising the neural stem cell niche, with IGF-II mRNA predominant in the adjacent choroid plexus. The IGF-1R and the IR isoforms were differentially expressed with IR-A predominant in the medial SVZ, whereas the IGF-1R was more abundant laterally. Similarly, IR-A was more highly expressed by NSPs, whereas the IGF-1R was more highly expressed by lineage restricted cells. In vitro, IGF-II was more potent in promoting NSP expansion than either IGF-I or standard growth medium. Limiting dilution and differentiation assays revealed that IGF-II was superior to IGF-I in promoting stemness. In vivo, NSPs propagated in IGF-II migrated to and took up residence in periventricular niches while IGF-I-treated NSPs predominantly colonized white matter. Knockdown of IR or IGF-1R using shRNAs supported the conclusion that the IGF-1R promotes progenitor proliferation, whereas the IR is important for self-renewal. Q-PCR revealed that IGF-II increased Oct4, Sox1, and FABP7 mRNA levels in NSPs. Our data support the conclusion that IGF-II promotes the self-renewal of neural stem/ progenitors via the IR. By contrast, IGF-1R functions as a mitogenic receptor to increase precursor abundance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1276
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Cell proliferation
  • Central nervous system
  • Choroid plexus
  • Insulin receptor
  • Self-renewal
  • Stem cell niche


Dive into the research topics of 'IGF-II promotes stemness of neural restricted precursors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this