Analysis of normal and truncated holo- and apo-retinol-binding protein (RBP) in human serum: altered ratios in chronic renal failure

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Jaconi S, Saurat J-H, Siegenthaler G. Analysis of normal and truncated holo- and apo-retinol-binding protein (RBP) in human serum: altered ratios in chronic renal failure. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:576–82. ISSN 0804–4643

Retinol, the precursor of the retinoic acid hormone, is transported in the serum by a specific carrier, the retinol-binding protein (RBP). Compared to serum of healthy controls, the serum of patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) contains markedly increased levels of the RBP form truncated at the C-terminal, des(182Leu-183Leu). (RBP2). which suggests that RBP2 is cleared by the kidney in healthy people but accumulates in serum of CRF patients (Jaconi S, et al. J Lipid Res 1995;36:1247–53). To understand better the mechanism of retinol transport, we have developed a new analytical strategy to analyze the various forms of RBP that circulate in the blood: RBP with and without retinol (holo- and apo-RBP, respectively), RBP bound or not to transthyretin (TTR) and to determine in which of these forms RBP2 circulates. We confirm, but now by direct measurement, that holo-RBP and, to a larger extent, apo-RBP are increased in CRF serum compared to normal serum. We also show that almost all apo-RBP and about 50% of total holo-RBP, corresponding to RBP excess in CRF serum, circulate free and are not complexed to TTR, the remaining 50% being complexed to TTR. This observation suggests that the high levels of free holo-RBP, not bound to TTR, which correspond to the increase in total RBPs measured in CRF serum, may alter the tissue uptake of retinol and be responsible for the signs of hypervitaminosis A observed in these patients. Secondly, we found that the truncation resulting in RBP2 does not alter its binding properties for retinol nor those of holo-RBP2 for TTR. We observed that the high amounts of free holo-RBP2 and holo-RBP in sera of CRF patients were low in normal serum, suggesting that these forms are cleared by the kidney in normal conditions. The possible role of free holo-RBPs is discussed in the context of retinol recycling.

Georges Siegenthaler, Clinique de Dermatologie, Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire, CH-1211 Geneve 14, Switzerland


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