The ability of normal mouse mammary epithelial cells (MECs) to express insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins (IGFBPs) was examined. MECs were isolated from day 11 pregnant mice and cultured on floating collagen gels in serum-free basal medium. After 24 h, the medium was replaced with fresh medium with/or without mouse PRL (mPRL), mouse placental lactogen-I (mPL-I), mPL-II, mouse GH (mGH), IGF-I, and IGF-II, either alone or in combinations. The MECs were cultured for an additional 5 days before collection of conditioned medium (CM). The relative amount of IGFBPs present in the CM was determined by Western ligand blotting, and α-lactalbumin content was determined with a specific RIA. The CM of the MECs contained two IGFBPs, with approximate mol wt of 29K and 40-45K. The 40-45K IGFBP appears to be the mouse equivalent of IGFBP-3, but the identity of the 29K IGFBP is not presently known. The 29K IGFBP was not iV-glycosylated and did not cross-react with antiserum to rodent IGFBP-2 or human IGFBP-1. Basal IGFBP expression was very low, but the addition of mPRL, mPL-I, or mPL-II stimulated a marked increase in the amount of 29K IGFBP that was released into the CM and a lesser increase in the release of IGFBP-3. This increase in the release of 29K IGFBP was dose dependent, with increases found at concentrations as low as 1 ng/ml lactogen. mGH also stimulated the release of 29K IGFBP, but was less potent than any of the three lactogens. Treatment of MECs with either IGF-I or IGF-II increased the amount of both the 29K IGFBP and IGFBP-3 in the CM, with relative potencies similar to those of the lactogenic hormones. However, when either IGF-I or IGF-II was added together with one of the lactogenic hormones, the release of 29K IGFBP was increased in an additive manner. While the IGFs acted additively with the lactogenic hormones on the expression of 29K IGFBP, they did not stimulate a- lactalbumin production by the MECs or act to enhance the effects of the lactogenic hormones in stimulating a-lactalbumin production. This study demonstrates that IGFBPs are expressed in normal mouse MECs, and the release of these IGFBPs into the CM is hormonally regulated by both lactogenic hormones and IGFs.
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