Hormonally produced changes in the synthesis and secretion of the serum copper-containing protein caeruloplasmin were studied in primary cultures of rat liver parenchymal cells isolated by the collagenase-perfusion technique. A rabbit antibody directed against rat caeruloplasmin was used to immunoprecipitate labelled caeruloplasmin. Isolated liver cells synthesized and secreted caeruloplasmin over a period of 3 days. Synthesis and secretion of this protein was enhanced when cells were treated with dexamethasone. The accumulation of copper was also moderately enhanced with glucocorticoid treatment. Inclusion of adrenaline in the culture medium resulted in elevated incorporation of copper into newly synthesized caeruloplasmin as well as an increase in 64Cu-labelled caeruloplasmin in the culture medium. However, adrenaline did not seem to increase the secretion of 3H-labelled protein, despite the elevation in secreted 64Cu-caeruloplasmin. This may be due to a large increase in the intracellular pool of 64Cu caused by enhanced accumulation of this metal when adrenaline is included in the incubation medium. Enhanced copper accumulation was also seen when cells were treated with glucagon. Adrenaline-stimulated accumulation of 64Cu could be inhibited by including phenoxybenzamine, an alpha-adrenergic blocker, in the culture medium. Elevation of extracellular copper caused enhancement in the detection of labelled caeruloplasmin in the medium of cultured cells, probably owing to the ability of this metal to stabilize the protein.

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