We have evaluated a series of laminarin sulphates with different degrees of sulphation (0.3-2.3) as antagonists of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and as inhibitors of the bFGF-dependent endothelial cell line FBHE. Inhibition of binding of bFGF by the laminarin sulphates increased with increasing degree of sulphation. Binding of bFGF to low affinity sites on BHK cells was inhibited more strongly than binding to high affinity sites. IC50 values for inhibition of binding to low and high affinity sites by the most highly sulphated laminarin sulphate (LAM S5; degree of sulphation 2.31) were 12 +/- 8 micrograms/ml and 69 +/- 66 micrograms/ml, respectively. LAM S5 dissociated bFGF from low affinity sites on BHK cells but not from high affinity sites. LAM S5 increased the electrophoretic mobility of bFGF indicating that LAM S5 binds directly to bFGF. LAM S5 reduced uptake of bFGF by FBHE cells by 67%. Increasing the degree of sulphation of laminarin sulphates increased the inhibition of bFGF-stimulated DNA synthesis of the endothelial cell line FBHE (IC50 for LAM S5 approx. 1 microgram/ml). There was no inhibition of DNA synthesis of FBHE cells by LAM S5 in the presence of 1 microgram/ml bFGF indicating that bFGF antagonism is involved in the anti-proliferative activity of this compound. LAM S5 may be of value against diseases associated with bFGF-dependent cell proliferation.

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