Insulin receptors (IR) and IGF-I receptors (IGF-IR) have been shown to form hybrid receptors in tissues coexpressing both molecules. To date there is no information about the distribution of hybrids in tissues of normal or diabetic subjects. We developed a microwell-based immunoassay to quantitate hybrids in small human tissues samples. Microwells were coated with MA-20 anti-IR antibody or alpha-IGF-IR-PA antibody directed against the IGF-IR alpha-subunit, and incubated with skeletal muscle extracts of patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and normal controls. Immobilized receptors were incubated with 125I-insulin or 125I-IGF-I in the presence or absence of the two unlabeled ligands. Hybrids were quantified as the fraction of 125I-IGF-I binding immunoadsorbed with MA-20 and expressed as percentage of total IGF-IR (type I+hybrids) immobilized with alpha-IGF-IR-PA. The immunoassay was validated using Western blotting analysis. Relative abundance of hybrids detected in NIDDM patients was higher than in controls. The percentage of hybrids was negatively correlated with IR number and in vivo insulin sensitivity measured by an insulin tolerance test, whereas the percentage was positively correlated with insulinemia. Insulin binding affinity was lower in NIDDM patients than in controls, and was correlated with the percentage of hybrids. Maximal IGF-I binding was significantly higher in muscle from NIDDM patients compared to controls and was positively correlated with the percentage of hybrid receptors whereas IGF-I binding affinity did not differ between the two groups. These results raise the possibility that alterations in expression of hybrid receptors may contribute to decreased insulin sensitivity, and to increased sensitivity to IGF-I. Because IGF-I has been proposed as a hypoglycemic agent in NIDDM, these results are relevant to the development of new approaches to the treatment of insulin resistance of NIDDM.
M Federici, L Zucaro, O Porzio, R Massoud, P Borboni, D Lauro, G Sesti