Since the discovery 20 years ago that the growth-promoting effects of somatotropin are mediated through a serum factor(s), research in this area has rapidly expanded. It is the purpose of this review to bring this area of scientific endeavor into perspective.

The first part of this review will deal with aspects of total serum somatomedin activity and its biologic actions and measurements in health and disease. The last part of this review will summarize some of the physical and biologic characteristics of the recently purified “somatomedin-like” substances: somatomedin A, B, and C, NSILA-S (nonsuppressible insulin-like activity-soluble in acid ethanol) and MSA (multiplication-stimulating activity).

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