We investigated primary human lung cancers resected surgically or obtained at autopsy. Included were squamous cell carcinoma (SQC) (five cases), adenocarcinoma (ADC) (six cases), large cell carcinoma (LCC) (four cases), and small cell carcinoma (SCC) (two cases). The objective of the study was to search for the presence of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I)-like immunoreactivity using immunohistochemical staining and for the localization of IGF-I binding sites, using in vitro quantitative receptor autoradiographic techniques.

IGF-I-like immunostaining was present in all cases of SQC, ADC, and LCC, but not in cases of SCC. Strong immunostaining was observed in cases of SQC. On the other hand, ADC and LCC tissues showed a moderate or weak staining. Specific binding sites for IGF-I were present in all cases of SQC, ADC, LCC, and SCC examined. High densities of 125I-IGF-I binding sites were localized in cases of SQC and SCC. Low to high densities of the binding sites were found in LCC. Cases of ADC showed low densities of 125I-IGF-I binding sites. Specific binding obtained at a concentration of 80 pm125I-IGF-I was competitively displaced by unlabeled IGF-I, with a 50% inhibitory concentration value of 1.84 ± 0.31 × 10-10 mol, whereas human insulin was much less potent in displacing the binding. This specificity profile is consistent with characteristics of IGF-I receptors. Scatchard analysis showed the presence of a single class of high affinity binding sites for IGF-I, with a Kd of approximately 1 nmol.

Thus, the possibility that IGF-I may play a role in the growth of human lung cancers would have to be considered.

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This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Japan (63570145, 1988).

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