• dextran-coated charcoal assay;
  • enzyme immunoassay;
  • liver;
  • estrogen receptors;
  • sucrose gradient centrifugation

ABSTRACT— For quantitative assessments of sex hormone receptors in liver tissue, ligand binding assays are inconvenient, as they require large biopsies (0.5–1.0 g). The present study shows that it is possible to measure oestrogen receptors (ER) quantitatively in needle biopsy specimens as small as 10 mg by modifications of a commercial enzyme immunoassay employing monoclonal antibodies. Sucrose gradient centrifugation and the dextran charcoal method served as reference methods. A consecutive series of needle biopsies from patients suspected of liver disease were investigated. The biopsies (n = 37) had a median weight of 14 mg and cytosolic protein concentrations > 1 mg/ml (median 1.28 mg/ml). The median ER concentration was 20 fmol/mg cytosolic protein (range 5 to 57 fmol/mg). The intra-assay coefficient of variation was 8.9%, the inter-assay 13.2%, and the detection limit 2.7 fmol/ml cytosol. Women had significantly higher ER concentrations (median 22 fmol/mg) compared to male patients (median 16 fmol/mg) (P = 0.007). The enzyme immunoassay measures ER in liver specimens as small as 10 mg, compared to the large tissue specimens necessary for the conventional DCC assay, and the method is a convenient tool for further studies of ER in routine needle biopsies from the liver.