Monoclonal antibodies previously shown to react with five distinct epitopes on the human insulin receptor were tested for their metabolic effects on isolated human adipocytes. Two antibodies which reacted with receptor alpha-subunit and completely inhibited 125I-insulin binding mimicked the actions of insulin to stimulate lipogenesis from [14C]glucose and to inhibit catecholamine-induced lipolysis. On a molar basis, these antibodies were comparable in potency with insulin itself. Two other antibodies which decreased insulin binding only slightly or not at all also mimicked these metabolic effects of insulin. One of these antibodies reacted with receptor beta-subunit. In contrast, a further antibody which reacted with alpha-subunit and inhibited insulin binding did not affect basal lipogenesis or catecholamine-induced lipolysis, but was able to antagonize the effects of insulin on these processes. The same antibody antagonized the insulin-like effect of another antibody with which it competed in binding to insulin receptor, but not the effect of an antibody which bound independently to the receptor. It is concluded that binding of ligand at or close to the insulin-binding site is neither necessary nor sufficient to trigger insulin-like metabolic effects, which may rather depend on some general property of antibodies, such as their ability to cross-link and aggregate receptor molecules.

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