We have established two in vitro bioassay systems for quantification of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) bioac-tivity. The first assay was used to quantitate mitogenic activity and the second was used to quantitate metabolic activity. Both assays use BALB/c 3T3 fibroblasts grown under serum-free conditions; detection of bioactivity in assays was performed colorimetrically and did not require the use of radioisotopes. The mitogenic bioassay, which requires 48 h for detection, quantitates changes in cell number and provides an index for determining the mitogenic activity of growth factors. Changes in cell number were measured by the enzymatic reduction of exogenously added MTT [3-(4, 5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2, 5-di-phenyl-2H tetrazolium bromide] to MTT-formazan by mitochondrial enzymes, which was directly correlated to cell number. The metabolic bioassay, which requires 22 h for detection, measures glucose consumption by detecting changes from the initial glucose concentration of conditioned medium after addition of various growth factors. When appropriate standards were established for these bioassays, they demonstrated a high level of reproducibility (coefficients of variation were 0.085-0.096 for the mitogenic bioassay and 0.120-0.191 for the metabolic bioassay). Both assays can be performed in 96-well microtiter plates, without the use of radioisotopes, or the limitations of conven- tional glucose, amino acid, or thymidine incorporation studies. In initial experiments for assay specificity, epidermal growth factor had no measurable effect in either assay. However, IGF-I, IGF-II, and insulin demonstrated effects on both metabolism and mitogenesis. In the case of the mitogenic bioassay, the maximum mitogenic activation by these growth factors was approximately 180% of control, and these factors demonstrated parallel sigmoidal dose-response curves, ranging from 0.02-2 ng/ml for IGF-I and from 2-200 ng/ml for both IGF-II and insulin. In the metabolic bioassay, in contrast to the mitogenic bioassay, insulin showed a dose-response curve whose shape was different from those of IGF-I and IGF-II. IGF-I and IGF-II stimulated glucose consumption in dose-dependent ranges of 0.02-3 ng/ml and 0.4-40 ng/ml, respectively. However, the dose-response effect of insulin was wider, ranging from 0.1-2000 ng/ml.When these assays were used to measure the bioactivity of IGF analogs, a des(l-3)-IGF-I, which has decreased affinity for IGF binding proteins, demonstrated activity equivalent to IGF-I, a [Leu27]IGF-II, which has markedly diminished affinity for the type 1 IGF receptor, exhibited approximatesly 0.07% of the potency of IGF-I and 1% of the potency of IGF-II.
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