1. We examined the effects of dietary protein manipulations in partially nephrectomized (one and one-third nephrectomy) and normal rats to gain perspective on the relative importance of circulating versus intrarenal (collecting tubule) insulin-like growth factor-I in the control of proximal nephron receptor density. In addition, we studied the factors that influence liver insulin-like growth factor-I secretion in partially nephrectomized rats.

2. Dietary protein restriction (6% versus 40%) lowered circulating levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I in both normal and partially nephrectomized rats up to 3 weeks after institution of the diets; however, growth hormone levels were little changed. Reduced renal mass stimulated intrarenal production of insulin-like growth factor I regardless of the diet.

3. Scatchard analysis revealed that the density of insulin-like growth factor-I receptors on glomerular and proximal tubule basolateral membranes increased when circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor-I were diminished, despite raised levels of intrarenal insulin-like growth factor-I, in partially nephrectomized rats.

4. Circulating insulin-like growth factor-I, rather than the tissue level, plays the dominant role in the control of proximal nephron receptor density under physiological conditions. Insulin, but not growth hormone, may play a role in liver insulin-like growth factor-I secretion in partially nephrectomized rats during dietary manipulations.

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