Kinetic studies of the binding and dissociation of [125I]-human growth hormone to rabbit liver and mammary gland membrane receptors have showed that the binding of [125I]-human growth hormone was largely irreversible to liver membrane receptors and completely to the solubilised mammary gland receptor. As Scatchard analysis assumes complete reversibility of the hormone-receptor interaction the validity of estimates of affinity and capacity of receptors derived by this analysis may be questionable.
Theoretical considerations show that in unimolecular irreversible interactions of hormone and receptor, a nonlinear (concave) or a linear Scatchard plot can be obtained. In linear Scatchard plots the capacity of the receptor obtained by extrapolation represents an overestimation of true capacity. This overestimation correlates with the value of the intercept in the Scatchard plot.