Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects both upper and lower motor neurons (MN) resulting in weakness, paralysis and subsequent death. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is a potent neurotrophic factor that has neuroprotective properties in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Due to the efficacy of IGF-I in the treatment of other diseases and its ability to promote neuronal survival, IGF-I is being extensively studied in ALS therapeutic trials. This review covers in vitro and in vivo studies examining the efficacy of IGF-I in ALS model systems and also addresses the mechanisms by which IGF-I asserts its effects in these models, the status of the IGF-I system in ALS patients, results of clinical trials, and the need for the development of better delivery mechanisms to maximize IGF-I efficacy. The knowledge obtained from these studies suggests that IGF-I has the potential to be a safe and efficacious therapy for ALS.
Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, insulin-like growth factor-I, treatment