In Vivo Clearance of Alpha-1 Acid Glycoprotein Is Influenced by the Extent of Its N-Linked Glycosylation and by Its Interaction with the Vessel Wall
Human alpha1-acid glycoprotein (AAG) is a mixture of at least two genetic variants, the A variant and the F1 and/or S variant or variants, which are encoded by two different genes. AAG is also an extensively glycosylated protein which possesses five N-linked glycans exhibiting substantial heterogeneity in their structures. The first objective of this study was to investigate the glycosylation of the two major gene products of AAG, i.e. the A variant and a mixture of the F1 and S variants (F1*S). To this end, we combined a chromatographic method for the fractionation of the AAG variants with a lectin-binding assay to characterise the glycosylation of purified glycoproteins. Secondly, because the oligosaccharides can influence the disposition of AAG, a kinetic study of the AAG variants was carried out in the rat. After intravenous administration of whole human AAG, the separation and quantification of the AAG variants in plasma was performed by application of specific methods by isoelectric focusing and immunonephelometry. The binding studies carried out on a panel of lectins showed significant differences in the lectin-binding characteristics of the separated F1*S and A variants, accounting for differences in the degree of branching of their glycan chains and substitution with sialic acid and fucose. The plasma concentration-time profiles of the F1*S and A variants were biphasic, and only small differences were observed between the variants for their initial and terminal half-lives, clearance and distribution volume. This indicates that the structural differences between the two AAG gene products do not affect their pharmacokinetics in the rat. Specific drug transport roles have been previously demonstrated for the F1*S and A variants, calling for further investigations into their effects on the disposition of drugs they bind in plasma. The present study shows that such investigations are possible without being complicated by kinetic differences between these variants.