The description of the cellular localization of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) remains incomplete, as do the descriptions of changes in their characteristics with respect to different developmental stages. We, therefore, performed affinity labeling studies in microsomal membrane preparations of adult and fetal rat brain and liver tissues with [125I]IGF-I and [125I]IGF-II. These studies demonstrated tissue- and developmental stage-specific structural variants of type I receptor Î±-subunits as well as type II receptors. The adult rat brain type I Î±-subunit had an apparent mol wt (Mr) of 127,000, whereas those of adult and fetal rat liver measured 140,000. Fetal rat brain microsomes, however, had two types of type I receptor Î±-subunits measuring 130,000 and 120,000 Mr. The larger subunit from fetal brain consistently migrated at an apparent Mr of 3,000, greater than subunits from adult brain. Both type I and II receptors were more abundant in fetal liver and brain than in adult tissues. Affinity labeling was also performed directly to monolayers of cultured fetal brain neurons and newborn astrocytes. These studies detected both type I and II receptors on the surfaces of both types of cells. However, only the high Mr (140,000) form of the type I Î±-subunit was detected in cultured CNS cells, suggesting that expression of low Mr variant receptors is altered in vitro. Type II receptors were demonstrated by immunohistochemistry in adult rat hypothalamic neurons. However, the majority of neurons did not react with type II receptor antibody. This finding implies that only a minority of hypothalamic neurons are capable of responding to IGF-II via type II receptors. On the other hand, all astrocytes had striking type II receptor immunoreactivity. This signifies a more general biological role for this receptor in astrocytes compared with neurons. These results suggest that different tissue-, developmental stage-, and cell-specific processes are mediated by IGF receptors and suggests new directions in which to explore potential biological actions for these receptor-ligand systems in the CNS.
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