, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 403-410

First online:

Immunohistochemical localization of insulin-like growth factor I in the adult rat

  • H. -A. HanssonAffiliated withDepartment of Histology, University of Göteborg
  • , A. NilssonAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, University of Göteborg
  • , J. IsgaardAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, University of Göteborg
  • , H. BilligAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, University of Göteborg
  • , O. IsakssonAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, University of Göteborg
  • , A. SkottnerAffiliated withKabiVitrum AB
  • , I. K. AnderssonAffiliated withDepartment of Histology, University of Göteborg
  • , B. RozellAffiliated withDepartment of Histology, University of Göteborg

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Rabbit antisera against native human insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I; somatomedin C) or a synthetic tetradeca peptide, representing the carboxyterminal amino acids 57–70 of human IGF-I, were used to map immunohistochemically the distribution of IGF-I immunoreactive material in adult rats. Both antisera were specific for IGF-I, as characterized by immunoabsorption, immunoblotting and radioimmunoassay. There was no cross-reactivity to IGF-II, relaxin or pro-insulin; substances having a high degree of structural homology with IGF-I.

High IGF-I immunoreactivity was observed in spermatocytes of the testis; in oocytes, granulosa and theca interna cells of the ovary during early stages of follicle development; in some lymphocytes and in reticular cells of lymphoid and hematopoetic organs; in salivary gland duct cells; in the adrenal medulla, the parathyroid gland and the Langerhans' islets. Chondrocytes in the epiphyseal and rib growth plates and at articular surfaces showed strong IGF-I immunoreactivity. Brown but not white fat cells were stained. Nerve cells in the peripheral and autonomic nervous system showed faint to intense IGF-I immunoreactivity. In contrast, neurons and neuroglial cells in the central nervous system were generally negative; motor neurons being an exception. Erythropoeitic, trombocytopoeitic and myeloic cells in the bone marrow showed IGF-I immunoreactivity, but only at defined developmental stages. Hepatocytes showed faint IGF-I immunoreactivity, but became more intensely stained after pretreatment with colchicine.

The present results suggest that IGF-I is synthetized by cells in several tissues and organs in the adult rat. There was an apparent association between the localization of IGF-I and cell differentiation. Certain cells involved in secretory processes also displayed high IGF-I immunoreactivity. The wide distribution of IGF-I indicates that the circulating pool of IGF-I has multiple origins.