Date Published:2016 Nov
The retina is part of the central nervous system and both the retina as well as the brain can suffer from severe damage after very preterm birth. Retinopathy of prematurity is one of the major causes of blindness in these children and brain neuronal impairments including cognitive defects, cerebral palsy and intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) are also complications of very preterm birth. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) acts to promote proliferation, maturation, growth and survival of neural cells. Low levels of circulating IGF-1 are associated with ROP and defects in the IGF-1 gene are associated with CNS disorders including learning deficits and brain growth restriction. Treatment of preterm infants with recombinant IGF-1 may potentially prevent ROP and CNS disorders. This review compares the role of IGF-1 in ROP and CNS disorders. A recent phase 2 study showed a positive effect of IGF-1 on the severity of IVH but no effect on ROP. A phase 3 trial is planned.