S35-labelled sodium sulfate was administered to rats 10, 30, and 300 days old in an intraperitoneal dose of 0.3 µc. per gm. of body weight. Representative animals of each age were sacrificed 12, 24, 48, and 96 hours after injection.
The concentration of sulfur-35 in the pooled sera of the 10-day-old rats was found to be strikingly higher than the level in the sera of the 30-day-old and the 300-day-old rats, while the levels of sulfur-35 in the sera of rats in the latter two age groups were similar. The difference was not explained by the differences in binding of sulfate by serum proteins. Although no binding could be detected when sulfate was added to serum in vitro, a substantial fraction, up to 80 per cent by the 96th hour, was observed to be bound after injection into the living rat. The 10-day-old rats differed from the older ones in having lower levels of serum proteins and lesser amounts of bound sulfate. The non-dialyzable sulfur-35 was associated to the largest extent with the albumin component in the sera.
The age of the rats found expression in the specific activities of the sulfate-sulfur of mucopolysaccharides isolated from the skeletons, pelts, and viscera. The highest specific activities were observed in the mucopolysaccharides isolated from the tissues of the youngest rats; the lowest in those from the oldest rats. Though the maximum concentration was rapidly attained in the mucopolysaccharides from the various tissues in each of the age groups, the subsequent decreases in concentration were slow.
Radiochemical analyses for sulfur-35 in ends and shafts of femurs and radioautographs of humeri supported the assumption that the labelled sulfate had been incorporated into the chondroitin sulfate of growing cartilage.