Aging, synaptic dysfunction, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1

Ferenc Deak, William E. Sonntag

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 is an important neurotrophic hormone. Deficiency of this hormone has been reported to influence the genesis of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly patients. Nevertheless, there are studies indicating that cognitive function can be maintained into old age even in the absence of circulating IGF-1 and studies that link IGF-1 to an acceleration of neurological diseases. Although IGF-1 has a complex role in brain function, synaptic effects appear to be central to the IGF-1-induced improvement in learning and memory. In this review, synaptic mechanisms of learning and memory and the effects of IGF-1 on synaptic communication are discussed. The emerging data indicate that synaptic function decreases with age and that IGF-1 contributes to information processing in the brain. Further studies that detail the specific actions of this important neurotrophic hormone will likely lead to therapies that result in improved cognitive function for the elderly patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-625
Number of pages15
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume67 A
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain aging
  • IGF-1
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Synaptic function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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