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Volume 2 (1998), Issue 2, Pages 69-76

The Role of Insulin-Like Growth Factor System in Soft Tissue Sarcomas: From Physiopathology to Targeted Therapeutic Approaches

1Department of Hematology/Oncology, Children's University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
2German Cancer Research Centre, Division of Cytogenetics, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, Heidelberg 69120, Germany

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose/Results. Although surgical, chemo- and radiotherapeutic treatment regimens in patients with soft tissue sarcomas have constantly been refined over the past two decades, the survival rate for these patients is rather low.

Discussion. There is a great need to investigate the mechanisms for oncogenesis and to identify the factors involved in malignant transformation in sarcomas. Among these factors, IGFs are thought to play a pivotal role as progression factors in various types of sarcomas. The dysregulation of the IGF-II synthesis, e.g. by loss of imprinting which occurs in most types of sarcomas, is a permissive effect through the suppression of cell death. In addition, cells that overexpress the type I IGF receptors are more susceptible to transformation by oncogenes. As TP53 suppresses the activity of IGF-II P3 and P4, as well as the type I IGF receptor promoter, mutations of TP53 in sarcomas may alternatively lead to the activation of these factors. Finally, the phenomenon of non-islet cell tumour hypoglycaemia that occurs in patients with sarcomas, and which is related to the secretion of IGF-II prohormones, is discussed. Future therapeutic strategies may be based upon the application of antibodies or antisense oligonucleotides directed against the type I IGF receptors, with the common goal of inducing apoptosis in sarcoma cells. Ultimately, these and other therapeutic approaches may lead to a better outcome in patients suffering from sarcoma.