Insulin receptors in the newborn. Increase in receptor affinity and number

N Engl J Med. 1977 Oct 27;297(17):908-12. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197710272971704.


Insulin hs been implicated as a growth factor in fetal life. To clarify the role of insulin in the fetus, we studied insulin receptors on mononuclear leukocytes in placental-cord blood from 12 normal newborns. Eight healthy young adults served as controls. Specific binding (mean +/- S.E.M.) in the absence of unlabeled insulin per 10(7) monocytes was, respectively, 24.3+/-3.5 and 4.7+/-0.9 per cent in newborns and adults. This increase in binding is due to a rise in number of receptor sites per cell (newborns, 44,600, and adults, 7100) as well as an increase in receptor affinity (Ke for newborns = 5.9 X 10(8) M(-1), and that for adults = 2.9 X 10(8) M(-1). This finding of markedly high concentrations of high-affinity receptors for insulin on fetal cells supports the importance of insulin in intrauterine growth and development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binding Sites
  • Fetal Blood
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism*


  • Insulin
  • Receptor, Insulin