Growth factors, nutrient signalling, and cardiovascular ageing

Growth factors regulated by specific macro-nutrients have been shown to promote ageing and accelerate mortality in the majority of the organisms studied. In particular, the enzymes activated by growth hormone, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1 in mammals and their orthologs in simple model organisms represent perhaps the best-understood proteins involved in the ageing process. Dietary restriction, which reduces the level of insulin-like growth factor-1 and of other growth factors, has been associated with protection from diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, and deficiencies in growth hormone signalling and insulin-like growth factor-1 are strongly associated with protection from cancer and diabetes in both mice and humans; however, their role in cardiac function and cardiovascular diseases is controversial. Here, we review the link between growth factors, cardiac function, and heart disease with focus on the cardio-protective and sensitising effect of growth factors in both model organisms and humans.