Insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and -II) are peptide growth factors that may be important for neonatal development. Specific high affinity IGF binding proteins (BPs) have been characterized in serum and extracellular fluids. The major serum binding complex in the adult has an apparent Mr of 150 K, while the predominant BP in the neonate is approximately 30 K. In the rat, the transition from the neonatal BP to the adult form occurs during the third postnatal week, concomitant with an increase in serum IGF-I and a decrease in serum IGF-II concentrations. Using specific RIAs and Western ligand blot analyses we have characterized the changes in serum IGF and IGF BPs, respectively, during the early postnatal period. Seven BPs were identified in serum with apparent Mr values of 42, 41, 40, 38, 28, 26, and 22 K. After deglycosylation, the 42, 41, 40, and 38 K BPs were reduced to two bands with apparent Mr values of 35 and 32 K, while the 28, 26, and 22 K BP were unchanged. In the neonate, the 28, 26, and 22 K BPs were present, with the 28 K BP in highest concentration. With increasing age, the 28 K BP decreased and the 42, 41, 40, and 38 K BPs appeared at approximately 19 days of age. Comparison of Western ligand blots of neonatal serum, BRL-3A conditioned media, rat amniotic fluid, and rat cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) demonstrated that all contained a prominent 28 K BP. A polyclonal antibody (αHec 1) developed against the 31 K human IGF-BP (hBP-31) immunoprecipitated the 28 K BP from neonatal rat serum, BRL-3A media, rat amniotic fluid, and rat CSF, but did not react with adult rat serum. These findings suggest that, in the rat, the predominant neonatal serum BP is structurally and immunologically similar to the major BRL-3A, amniotic fluid, and CSF BPs, but distinct from the predominant adult serum BP.
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