Previous studies have suggested that basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is involved in the mediation of the compensatory adrenal growth response. These studies were undertaken to identify the bFGF receptor in the rat adrenal cortex and determine bFGF receptor levels in vivo. Initial studies using primary cultures of rat glomerulosa cells demonstrated a high affinity binding site with a Kdof 10 pM, consistent with reported values for the bFGF receptor; however, these results could not be demonstrated in capsule-glomerulosa tissue. Using autoradiography to verify the existence of bFGF receptors in vivo, heparin-insensitive [125I]bFGF-binding sites were concentrated primarily in the capsule and glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex, suggesting the presence of FGF receptors. The presence of bFGF receptors was further verified by demonstration of internalization of [125I]bFGF into cells of capsule-glomerulosa preps. This approach was used to demonstrate that suramin (a bFGF antagonist) pretreatment of rats results in bFGF receptor up-regulation in the adrenal cortex. In addition, we demonstrated a decrease in bFGF internalization in the remaining adrenal 24 h after unilateral adrenalectomy, suggesting the utilization of bFGF during the compensatory adrenal growth response. Together, these data support a role for bFGF in autocrine stimulation of the adrenal cortex and in the compensatory adrenal growth response.
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