The potential role of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in the regulation of rat liver regeneration was examined by assessing the binding of 125I-EGF to hepatic membranes isolated at various times after partial hepatectomy. The results demonstrated a fall in 125I-EGF binding detectable as early as 8 h after partial hepatectomy. The nadir in EGF binding, less than 40% of that observed in sham-operated control rats, was seen 36 and 48 h after partial hepatectomy. Scatchard analysis showed that the decrease in binding capacity was due to a fall in receptor number. The specificity of the observed loss of EGF receptors was substantiated in parallel studies of 125I-insulin and 125I-wheat germ lectin binding; the binding of these ligands did not decrease appreciably during liver regeneration. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that EGF or a similar substance is one component of the complex humoral signal that regulates liver regeneration.
H S Earp, E J O'Keefe