Studies of the Metabolism of Asialotransferrins: the Metabolic Heterogeneity of Human Asialotransferrin
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Catabolism of human transferrin and human asialotransferrin was simultaneously studied in guinea pigs by means of total body radioactivity measurements. Total body activity representing transferrin decreased at a constant rate with an average half-life of 88 h. Decrease of the total body activity representing asialotransferrin exhibited at least two rates; the half-life of the fast initial component averaged at 25 h, whereas the half-life of the slower component averaged at 55 h. Transition occurred between the 50th and 80th hours of the experiments. The complex character of the elimination curves could not be explained by differences in the iron content of asialotransferrin, by the presence of transferrin variants or of denatured protein in the injected material, by residual sialic acid in the preparations, by accumulation of radioactive terminal catabolic products in the body, by an association of asialotransferrin with any other macromolecular plasma constituent, by changing conditions for mass action, or by a continuing return of labeled protein from the extravascular space. Injection of bovine asialotransferrin into guinea pigs did not result in complex total body curves. Analyses of guinea pig tissues demonstrated that human asialotransferrin had marked affinity for the liver and none for the kidney, lung, or spleen. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the glycopeptides in human transferrin are heterogeneous in that removal of the sialyl residues exposes structures with different affinities for the hepatic asialoglycoprotein receptor. The precise chemical basis for the metabolic heterogeneity is unknown.
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