Localization of Insulin‐Like Growth Factor‐II Receptors in Rat Brain by in vitro Autoradiography and Immunohistochemistry

Jennifer A. Batch, George A. Werther, Annette Hogg, Frederick A O Mendelsohn, Carolyn Scott, Brian J. Oldfield

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Insulin‐like growth factor‐ll (IGF‐II) and its receptor, which is homologous with the mannose‐6‐phosphate (M6P) receptor, are found in high levels in adult rat and human brain, though their role remains unclear. In order to point to possible regional functions, we have mapped and quantified IGF‐II/M6P receptors in sagittal sections of adult rat brain by in vitro autoradiography/computerized densitometry and immunohistochemistry. While in vitro autoradiography allowed mapping and quantitation, immunohistochemistry both confirmed mapping and allowed more detailed determination of cellular distribution of receptors. The two methods were generally in agreement with few areas of mismatching. By in vitro autoradiography, a discrete and characteristic distribution of IGF‐II receptor binding was demonstrated, with specific binding representing 85% of total binding. Displacement and specificity competition curves in arcuate nucleus and choroid plexus were typical for authentic IGF‐II receptors with half maximal displacement at 1 nM cold IGF‐II. IGF‐II receptor density, estimated by in vitro autoradiography, was very high in circumventricular organs, especially the median eminence, which had the highest binding in the brain. In the remainder of the brain there was concordance between the distribution of receptors identified by the two techniques, with greatest densities in the olfactory bulb and olfactory pathways, the hippocampus and discrete regions of the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hypothalamus, thalamus and brainstem. There were however, some notable mismatches. Autoradiographic binding was high to very high in the median eminence, arcuate nucleus, suprachiasmatic nucleus and anterodorsal thalamic nucleus, whereas these areas were only poorly immunostained. Conversely, the septum showed moderate autoradiographic binding, but very prominent immunostaining of neurons in its dorsolat‐eral aspect. Using the immunohistochemical technique IGF‐II receptors were localized to specific neuronal groups such as the mitral cells of the olfactory bulb, Purkinje cells of the cerebellum and neurons in the red nucleus. Fibre pathways were not labelled by either technique. We conclude that IGF‐II/M6P receptors are widespread throughout rat brain, specifically in neurons and blood vessels, with a similar, but distinct distribution to IGF‐I and insulin receptors. Many of these regions have in common high rates of metabolic and synthetic activity, which may be mediated by IGF‐II/M6P and their receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-503
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • immunohistochemistry
  • in vitro autoradiography
  • insulin‐like growth factor‐ll receptors
  • mannose‐6‐phosphate receptor
  • rat brain

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