The induction of specific proteases for insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins following major heart surgery

S C Cwyfan Hughes, A M Cotterill, A R Molloy, T B Cassell, N Braude, C J Hinds, J A Wass, J M Holly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) circulate bound to specific high-affinity binding proteins (IGFBPs). Recent evidence has shown that in pregnancy and severe illness, specific proteases modify these binding proteins, reducing their affinity for IGFs. We have studied 12 patients, undergoing elective coronary artery vein-bypass graft surgery, for the appearance of these proteases and have demonstrated the induction of two independent, heat-labile, cation-dependent proteases. Proteolytic activity directed against IGFBP-3 was detected in all patients between 24 h and 5 days after surgery; the second IGFBP-4 specific protease was active 1 h after sternotomy. The total IGF-I levels were found to decrease following surgery, with the IGF-I distribution in the plasma being radically altered from that seen prior to the operation. One day after the operation the majority of the IGF-I, instead of being bound in the relatively inert 150 kDa complex, was associated with the smaller binding proteins which are more readily accessible to the tissues. These findings are in contrast to pregnancy where, despite similar proteases, the majority of the IGF-I remains in the 150 kDa complex. The alteration seen in IGF-I distribution after surgery did not appear to be a direct result of the IGFBP-3 proteolytic activity or an effect of the addition of heparin to the circulation. The potential increase in bioavailability of IGFs caused by the alteration in carrier protein may play a pivotal role in countering the catabolic state induced by surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-45
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992


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