Disruptions in growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (GH/IGF-1) signaling have been linked to improved longevity in mice and humans. Nevertheless, while IGF-1 levels are associated with increased cancer risk, they have been paradoxically implicated with protection from other age-related conditions, particularly in the brain, suggesting that strategies aimed at selectively increasing central IGF-1 action may have favorable effects on aging. To test this hypothesis, we generated inducible, brain-specific (TRE-IGF-1 × Camk2a-tTA) IGF-1 (bIGF-1) overexpression mice and studied effects on healthspan. Doxycycline was removed from the diet at 12 weeks old to permit post-development brain IGF-1 overexpression, and animals were monitored up to 24 months. Brain IGF-1 levels were increased approximately twofold in bIGF-1 mice, along with greater brain weights, volume, and myelin density (P < 0.05). Age-related changes in rotarod performance, exercise capacity, depressive-like behavior, and hippocampal gliosis were all attenuated specifically in bIGF-1 male mice (P < 0.05). However, chronic brain IGF-1 failed to prevent declines in cognitive function or neurovascular coupling. Therefore, we performed a short-term intranasal (IN) treatment of either IGF-1 or saline in 24-month-old male C57BL/6 mice and found that IN IGF-1 treatment tended to reduce depressive (P = 0.09) and anxiety-like behavior (P = 0.08) and improve motor coordination (P = 0.07) and unlike transgenic mice improved motor learning (P < 0.05) and visuospatial and working memory (P < 0.05). These data highlight important sex differences in how brain IGF-1 action impacts healthspan and suggest that translational approaches that target IGF-1 centrally can restore cognitive function, a possibility that should be explored as a strategy to combat age-related cognitive decline.
- Cognitive and sensorimotor decline
- Cognitive function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology