A competitive binding technique is described for the estimation of the thyroxine (T4)-binding properties of serum proteins in dilute blood serum and lymph. When used in conjunction with an assay for total T4 the following parameters can be estimated: the number of functionally different T4 binding proteins, their individual association constants and binding capacities for T4, the amount of T4 which is bound to each binding species, and the concentration of unbound (free) T4.
Both human and sheep serum have three functionally different T4-binding proteins. The association constants for the three human proteins were 9·5 × 109, 1·6 × 108 and 3·1 × 105 1/mol for T4-binding globulin (TBG), T4-binding prealbumin (TBPA) and serum albumin, respectively. The corresponding sheep proteins, TBG, TBP-2 and albumin, had association constants of 8·9 × 109, 1·4 × 108 and 3·5 × 1051/mol. Human TBG had a mean binding capacity of 21·3 μg/100 ml and that of ovine TBG was 12·8 μg/100 ml. The other specific binding proteins (TBPA in man and TBP-2 in sheep) had mean binding capacities of 307 and 359 μg/100 ml respectively.
Two functionally different T4-binding proteins were identified in rat serum.