The effect of heparin, a potyanionic glycosaminoglycan known to alter the function of many proteins, on insulin binding and bioactivity was studied. Cultured human lymphocytes (IM-9) were incubated with varying concentrations of heparin, then extensively washed, and 125I-labeled insulin binding was measured. Heparin at concentrations used clinically for anticoagulation (1-50 U/ml) inhibited binding in a dose-dependent manner; 50% inhibition of binding occurred with 5-10 U/ml. Scatchard analysis indicated that the decrease in binding was due to a decrease in both the affinity and the apparent number of available insulin receptors. The effect occurredwithin 10 min at 22°C and persisted even after the cells were extensively washed. Inhibition of insulin binding also occurred when cells were preincubated with heparinized plasma or heparinized serum but not when cells were incubated with normal serum or plasma from blood anticoagulated with EDTA. By contrast, other polyanions and polycations, e.g., poly-L-glutamic acid, poly-L-lysine, succinylated poly-L-lysine, and histone, did not inhibit binding.

Heparin also inhibited insulin binding in Epstein-Barr (EB) virus-transformed lymphocytes buthad no effect on insulin binding to isolated adipocytes, human erythrocytes, or intact hepatoma cells. When isolated adipocytes were incubated with heparin, there was a dose-dependent inhibitionof insulin-stimulated glucose oxidation and, to a lesser extent, of basal glucose oxidation. Although heparin has no effect on insulin binding to intact hepatoma cells, heparin inhibited both insulin binding and insulin-stimulated autophosphorylation in receptors solubilized from these cells. These data indicate that heparin may interact with insulin receptors at concentrations normally used for anticoagulation, altering insulin binding and/or action in various cell types.

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