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Summary

Epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors were detected in plasma membrane preparations of equine hoof wall laminar tissue at concentrations comparable to that of equine liver. Scatchard analysis of the equilibrium binding data suggested the presence of two classes of EGF binding sites in most of the controls (plasma membranes from clinically normal horses); a high-affinity class and a more numerous low-affinity class. The dissociation constant of the low-affinity class of EGF-specific receptors (KD=1 × 10−9M) is in reasonable agreement with other values established for the EGF receptor. The variability between individual estimates for the KD of the high-affinity receptor class precluded an accurate estimate for those sites. A possible explanation is discussed. The high-affinity binding sites were uniformly absent in plasma membranes prepared from horses affected by chronic laminitis. Autoradiographic analysis localised the EGF receptors primarily to the secondary epidermal laminae, with an apparent greater density over the proliferative basal keratinocytes. Little label was associated with the dermal or the keratinised primary epidermal laminae. Tissue from horses with chronic laminitis had EGF receptors located uniformly over the hyperplastic epidermal keratinocytes. These data suggest that an EGF-mediated response may be involved in the hyperproliferative response that is characteristic of chronic laminitis.