The effect of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) on growth of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines was studied. Western blot analysis of whole cell lysates of cell lines NCI-H345 and NCI-N417 demonstrated the presence of a 16-kD band consistent with an IGF-I precursor molecule. Scatchard plot analysis of cell line NCI-H345 using 125I-labeled IGF-I demonstrated two high affinity specific binding sites (K(d) 1.3 and 4.0 nM with maximal rate (B(max)) 200 and 500 fmol/mg protein, respectively). The exogenous addition of IGF-I, IGF-II, or insulin resulted in marked proliferation of human SCLC cells as evaluated using an in vitro growth assay. These peptides stimulate the growth of SCLC cell lines NCI-H82, NCI-H209, NCI-H345, and NCI-N417. The concentration of IGF-I producing maximal SCLC cell growth was 10-100-fold less than that of insulin or IGF-II, whereas the maximal growth stimulated by the optimal concentration of these peptides were similar. An MAb that specifically binds to the IGF-I receptor (but not to the insulin receptor) mediates a dose-dependent inhibition of cell growth in basal media as well as IGF-I, IGF-II, or insulin-supplemented media. The IGF-I receptor thus appears to be the common pathway for the mitogenic activity by IGF-I, IGF-II, and insulin for human SCLC cell lines. The demonstration of an IGF-I precursor molecule, specific IGF-I receptor binding, IGF-I-mediated growth stimulation, and inhibition of basal cell growth by an MAb to the IGF-I receptor suggests that an IGF-I-like molecule can function in vitro as an autocrine growth factor for human SCLC cell lines.
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