In the present study a double-staining technique was developed to investigate simultaneous GH and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) binding to chondrocytes in a monolayer cell culture.
Rat tibial epiphyseal chondrocytes were isolated by enzymatic digestion and cultured in monolayer. GH and IGF-I were labelled with biotin. The affinity of the biotin-labelled ligands was compared with unlabelled ligands in a radioreceptor assay.
To study the distribution of GH and IGF-I binding in the monolayer, chondrocytes were incubated with biotinylated ligands with or without an excess of unlabelled ligands, followed by incubation with Vectastain ABC complex, which was then reacted with diaminobenzidine (DAB). Double staining was accomplished by carrying out the first reaction with DAB in the presence of nickel ammonium sulphate to give a black precipitate, followed by incubation with the second ligand, then ABC complex and finally DAB in the absence of nickel ammonium sulphate to give a brown stain. The presence of type-II collagen was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and used as a marker for differentiated chondrocytes.
Biotin-labelled GH and biotin-labelled IGF-I exhibited dose-dependent displacements of 125I-labelled GH and 125I-labelled IGF-I respectively from the chondrocytes in a radioreceptor assay. The displacement curves were identical to those of unlabelled ligands indicating that the affinity was unaltered. Binding of biotinylated GH to cells was seen throughout the culture in regions where there was little or no type-II collagen staining. IGF-I binding was predominantly localized to cells at high density; areas which also showed a high degree of staining for type-II collagen.
The different locations of binding suggest that epiphyseal chondrocytes in monolayer culture comprise a heterogeneous cell population and that IGF-I and GH have different target cells.