Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) are a family of proteins binding to Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), generally including IGFBP1, IGFBP2, IGFBP3, IGFBP4, IGFBP5, and IGFBP6. The biological functions of IGFBPs can be classified as IGFs-dependent actions and IGFs-independent effects.
Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) are a group of secreted proteins which serve as transport proteins for insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) with high affinity, regulating the bioavailability and function of IGFs. The IGFBP family consists of six IGFBPs, namely IGFBP1 through IGFBP6, however other proteins with low binding affinity to IGFs were incorrectly named as IGFBP7, IGFBP8, IGFBP9 etc., a consequence of belonging to the IGFBP-related protein (IGFBP-rPs) family. Due to the conserved protein structure and high binding affinity to IGFs, only IGFBP1 through IGFBP6 are considered true IGFBPs. The eponymous function of IGFBPs is achieved through binding to IGFs thus regulating their biological activity; however, in pathological conditions, especially under cancer status, the role of IGFBPs in IGF-independent pathways has prompted increasing attention. In autoimmune diseases, IGFBPs are also known to play a role in the development of diseases both through IGF-dependent and IGF-independent pathologies.
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