Hypoxia stimulates insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1) gene expression in HepG2 cells: A possible model for IGFBP-1 expression in fetal hypoxia

Salli I. Tazuke, Natalie M. Mazure, Junichi Sugawara, Grace Carland, Gerry H. Faessen, Lii Feng Suen, Juan C. Irwin, David R. Powell, Amato J. Giaccia, Linda C. Giudice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Citations (Scopus)


IGFBP-1 is elevated in fetuses with long-term, chronic hypoxia and intrauterine growth restriction. We investigated the hypothesis that hypoxia regulates IGFBP-1 in the human fetus in vivo and IGFBP-1 gene expression and protein in vitro. Umbilical artery IGFBP-1 levels (mean ± SEM) from term babies with respiratory acidosis (acute hypoxia), normal babies, and those with mixed respiratory/metabolic acidosis (more profound and prolonged hypoxia) were measured using an immunoradiometric assay. IGFBP-1 levels were similar in normal (n = 12) and acutely hypoxic (n = 6) babies (189.1 ± 71.8 vs. 175.8 ± 45.9 ng /ml, respectively, P = 0.789). However, with more profound and prolonged hypoxia (n = 19), IGFBP-1 levels were markedly elevated (470.6 ± 80.0 ng/ml, P = 0.044). To investigate IGFBP-1 regulation by hypoxia in vitro, HepG2 cells were incubated under hypoxia (pO2 = 2%) and normoxia (pO2 = 20%). IGFBP-1 protein and mRNA increased 8- and 12-fold, respectively, under hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia did not affect protein or mRNA levels of IGFBP-2 or -4. IGFBP-5 and -6 mRNAs, undetectable in control cells, were not induced by hypoxia, whereas minimally expressed IGFBP-3 mRNA increased twofold. Investigation into IGFBP-1 gene structure revealed three potential consensus sequences for the hypoxia response element (HRE) in the first intron. To investigate functionality, a 372-bp fragment of IGFBP-1 intron 1, containing putative HREs, was placed 5′ to a heterologous hsp70 promoter in a plasmid using luciferase as a reporter gene. Under hypoxia, reporter gene activity increased up to 30-fold. Mutations in the middle HRE abolished reporter activity in response to hypoxia, suggesting that this HRE is functional in the IGFBP-1 hypoxia response. Cotransfection of HRE reporter genes with a constitutively expressing hypoxia-inducible factor 1 plasmid in HepG2 cells resulted in a fourfold induction of reporter activity, suggesting a role for hypoxia-inducible factor 1 in hypoxia induction of IGFBP-1 gene expression. These data support the hypothesis that hypoxia regulation of IGFBP-1 may be a mechanism operating in the human fetus to restrict insulin-like growth factor-mediated growth in utero under conditions of chronic hypoxia and limited substrate availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10188-10193
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Aug 18
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetus
  • Gene expression
  • Growth factor
  • Newborn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypoxia stimulates insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1) gene expression in HepG2 cells: A possible model for IGFBP-1 expression in fetal hypoxia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this