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Sites of Serum α-Fetoprotein Synthesis in the Human and in the Rat*

David Gitlin and Mary Boesman

Department of Pediatrics of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Address requests for reprints to Dr. David Gitlin, Dept. of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213.

* Submitted for publication December 5, 1966; accepted March 10, 1967.

Published June 1967

Selected tissues from human embryos of 6 to 9 weeks' gestation, from rat fetuses of 15 days' gestation, and from rats 2 days of age were incubated with 14C-labeled amino acids. Immunoelectrophoresis of the culture fluid after incubation, using rabbit antisera against human and rat fetal serum proteins, followed by radioautography revealed that: 1) Radioactive α-fetoprotein was present in cultures of human liver, rat liver, and rat yolk sac, but not in cultures of human or rat brain, lung, heart, kidney, intestines, skeletal muscle, skin, or placenta; human yolk sac was not studied. 2) Radioactive transferrin was also present in rat yolk sac cultures, and the same protein was found in rat liver cultures as well. 3) Rat liver and rat placenta cultures both produced radioactive serum Rα2-globulin.

Serum α-fetoprotein concentrations in the rat declined abruptly after birth to approximately half of the prenatal level by 2 to 3 days of age, in accord with the loss of the fetal membranes at delivery; the α-fetoprotein level then remained relatively constant until the rat was 6 to 8 days of age, after which synthesis of the protein was increasingly suppressed.

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