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F Gizard, E Teissier, I Dufort, G Luc, V Luu-The, B Staels, and DW Hum

Steroid hormones synthesized from cholesterol in the adrenal gland are important regulators of many physiological processes. It is now well documented that the expression of many genes required for steroid biosynthesis is dependent on the coordinated expression of the nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1). However, transcriptional mechanisms underlying the species-specific, developmentally programmed and hormone-dependent modulation of the adrenal steroid pathways remain to be elucidated. Recently, we demonstrated that the transcriptional regulating protein of 132 kDa (TReP-132) acts as a coactivator of SF-1 to regulate human P450scc gene transcription in human adrenal NCI-H295 cells. The present study shows that overexpression of TReP-132 increases the level of active steroids produced in NCI-H295 cells. The conversion of pregnenolone to downstream steroids following TReP-132 expression showed increased levels of glucocorticoids, C(19) steroids and estrogens. Correlating with these data, TReP-132 increases P450c17 activities via the induction of transcript levels and promoter activity of the P450c17 gene, an effect that is enhanced in the presence of cAMP or SF-1. In addition, P450aro activity and mRNA levels are highly induced by TReP-132, whereas 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type II and P450c11aldo transcript levels are only slightly modulated. Taken together, these results demonstrate that TReP-132 is a trans-acting factor of genes involved in adrenal glucocorticoid, C(19) steroid and estrogen production.

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A. Penhoat, P. Leduque, C. Jaillard, P. G. Chatelain, P. M. Dubois, and J. M. Saez

ABSTRACT

Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is required for the maintenance of differentiated functions of bovine adrenal fasciculata cells in culture. We have investigated, by immunocytochemistry, the presence of IGF-I in cells cultured in the absence or presence of ACTH and angiotensin II (AII), as well as the secretion of IGF-I and its binding proteins (IGFBPs). In control cultures, very few cells were specifically stained with the anti-IGF-I serum. Following 2 days of treatment with AII (1μm) or ACTH (10 nm) the number of stained cells increased by 5- and 14-fold respectively. In all cases the staining was specific, since it was abolished when non-immune rabbit serum replaced the anti-IGF serum or when the anti-IGF-I serum was preincubated with saturating concentrations of the peptide. Under the same experimental conditions the secretion of IGF-I into the medium, evaluated by a specific radioimmunoassay, was increased two- and sevenfold by AII and ACTH respectively. Using the method of Western ligand blotting, the major form of IGFBP secreted by control adrenal cells was found to be a 38–42kDa doublet protein. Two minor forms with apparent molecular weights of 28–31 kDa and 24kDa have also been identified. Following acid—ethanol extraction of the conditioned medium, all the IGFBPs were recovered in the pellet, whereas most of the IGF-I was in the supernatant. ACTH and, to a lesser extent, AII pretreatment increased the 38–42kDa IGFBP by several fold, decreased the 28–31 kDa IGFBP and had no effect on the 24kDa IGFBP. In conclusion, these results demonstrate (i) that bovine adrenal cells contain IGF-I-like immunoreactive material, (ii) that the stimulatory effects of ACTH and AII on IGF-I secretion by bovine adrenal cells are due mainly to an increase in the number of IGF-I-producing cells and (iii) that ACTH and AII modulate the secretion of IGFBP by adrenal cells. Although the roles of IGFBPs have not been defined in adrenal cells, they are capable of modulating the biological action of IGFs in other cell cultures. Regulation of both IGF-I and its binding proteins by the two specific hormones ACTH and AII suggests important roles for these binding proteins in modulating the action of IGF-I in bovine adrenal cell function.

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O. Vindrola, A. Ase, R. Aloyz, F. Saravia, S. Finkielman, and V. E. Nahmod

ABSTRACT

Proenkephalin-derived peptides, in common with other prohormones, are associated with membranes of microsomes and secretory granules in the bovine adrenal medulla. Post-translational processing of the precursor molecule varies depending upon the tissue. The relationship between post-translational events in different tissues was examined by studying the membrane association of endogenous proenkephalin-derived peptides in the crude microsomal fraction of rat adrenal medulla, brain striatum and heart ventricle. [Met]-Enkephalin and synenkephalin (proenkephalin(1–70)) immunoreactivities were quantified by radioimmunoassay after sequential enzymatic digestion with trypsin and carboxypeptidase B. Between 60 and 75% of total immunoreactive peptides present in intact microsomes of the three tissues were associated with membranes and specifically released with 2 m KSCN (pH 7·4). Analysis of the chromatographic profile of materials present in the soluble and associated fractions produced the following results. In the three tissues the materials associated with microsomal membranes corresponded to peptides larger than 3–5 kDa and displayed synenkephalin and [Met]-enkephalin immunoreactivity. Adrenal and heart microsomes showed a continuous pattern of membrane-associated proenkephalin-derived peptides of high, intermediate and low molecular weights containing the synenkephalin and [Met]-enkephalin sequences. These tissues, however, presented quantitative differences, as the highest concentrations belonged to materials larger and smaller than 12·5 kDa in adrenal and heart microsomes respectively. On the other hand, brain striatal microsomes displayed a discontinuous pattern of associated materials, with the absence of some products of high and intermediate molecular weight. Only in the soluble fraction of striatal microsomes were peptides detected of high and intermediate molecular weight containing the [Met]-enkephalin but not the synenkephalin sequence.

In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the association of proenkephalin-derived peptides with microsomal membranes is a common event in the adrenal medulla, heart ventricle and rat striatum, involving, in all cases, some portion of the C-terminal sequence of the synenkephalin molecule. These observations provide further evidence suggesting that the differential profiles of proenkephalin-derived peptides in the adrenal medulla and striatum may be related to differential post-translational processing instead of changes in processing rate.

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I. M. Bird, S. W. Walker, and B. C. Williams

INTRODUCTION

In 1980, studies of the hormone regulation of adrenocortical steroidogenesis had reached a turning point. The important differences in function and responsiveness of the different adrenocortical zones had been recognized (Tait, Tait & Bell, 1980; see also Brown, 1982), and the need for purified cell populations from each zone for in-vitro studies emphasized. Two reviews of that year (Schimmer, 1980; Tait et al. 1980) also highlighted advances which had been made in understanding the mechanisms of hormone-stimulated (particularly adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH)-stimulated) cyclic AMP (cAMP) generation in the adrenal cortex, and how cAMP could bring about an increase in adrenal steroidogenesis. However, these reviews also stressed that not all the known steroidogenic agonists stimulated cAMP production. At least one agonist (angiotensin II (AII)) operated through a mechanism requiring an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i).

In many other tissues, agonists such as AII, vasopressin and acetylcholine were known

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G C Inglis, C J Kenyon, C Szpirer, K Klinga-Levan, R G Sutcliffe, and J M C Connell

ABSTRACT

Mouse hepatoma × rat hepatocyte hybrids that segregate rat chromosomes were used to determine the chromosomal location of the rat genes encoding 11 β-hydroxylase and aldosterone synthase (Cyp11b1 and Cyp11b2 respectively). By means of species-specific restriction fragments and microsatellite markers both genes were mapped to rat chromosome 7. The Cyp11b1 microsatellite marker was subsequently found to vary in length between and within rat strains. Furthermore, we compared the sequences of Cyp11b1 markers in two genetically hypertensive strains of rat with their normotensive counterparts. Previous studies have indicated that 11β-hydroxylase activities in Milan and Lyon hypertensive strains are different from their respective genetic controls. The Cyp11b1 microsatellite regions from Lyon hypotensive and normotensive strains of rat were similar and were both shorter by 15 bases than that of the Lyon hypertensive strain. The Cyp11b1 marker in Milan hypertensive (MHS) and normotensive (MNS) strains differ from all the Lyon strains and from each other. The MHS marker is 12 bases shorter than that of MNS rats. These differences in microsatellite length may provide useful polymorphic markers in co-segregation studies of genetic hypertension in rats.

Free access

James F H Pittaway and Leonardo Guasti

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare malignancy with an incidence worldwide of 0.7–2.0 cases/million/year. Initial staging is the most important factor in determining prognosis. If diagnosed early, complete surgical resection +/− adjuvant treatment can lead to 5-year survival of up to 80%. However, often it is diagnosed late and in advanced disease, 5-year survival is <15% with a high recurrence rate even after radical surgery. The mainstay of adjuvant treatment is with the drug mitotane. Mitotane has a specific cytotoxic effect on steroidogenic cells of the adrenal cortex, but despite this, progression through treatment is common. Developments in genetic analysis in the form of next-generation sequencing, aided by bioinformatics, have enabled high-throughput molecular characterisation of these tumours. This, in addition to a better appreciation of the processes of physiological, homeostatic self-renewal of the adrenal cortex, has furthered our understanding of the pathogenesis of this malignancy. In this review, we have detailed the pathobiology and genetic alterations in adrenocortical carcinoma by integrating current understanding of homeostasis and self-renewal in the normal adrenal cortex with molecular profiling of tumours from recent genetic analyses. Improved understanding of the mechanisms involved in self-renewal and stem cell hierarchy in normal human adrenal cortices, together with the identification of cell populations likely to be co-opted by oncogenic mutations, will enable further progress in the definition of the molecular pathways involved in the pathogenesis of ACC. The combination of these advances eventually will lead to the development of novel, effective and personalised strategies to eradicate molecularly annotated ACCs.

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T. S. Tiong, J. L. Stevenson, and A. C. Herington

ABSTRACT

The nature and tissue distribution of prolactin receptor (PRL-R) mRNA in both male and female rats was studied. A single mRNA species of 2.2kb was identified in the liver, kidney, adrenal, prostate, lactating mammary gland and ovary but not in the male lung, heart, skeletal muscle, thymus, adipose tissue or brain. There were distinct and contrasting sex differences in abundance of PRL-R mRNA in some tissues: liver (female>>male), kidney and adrenal (male >>female). A mRNA species of 4kb was occasionally detected in the male adrenal and female liver. Given previous reports on the effects of thyroid status on PRL binding, the effects of thyroxine (T4), propylthiouracil (PTU) or combined treatment on PRL-R mRNA were assessed. In the male rat, PTU treatment markedly increased (three- to fourfold) PRL-R mRNA in the liver but decreased it (∼50%) in the kidney. These changes were reflected in similar changes in lactogenic binding activity. T4 or PTU treatment increased PRL-R mRNA in the prostate, with no obvious changes in binding. No major changes were seen in adrenal glands. In the female rat, PTU had little effect on PRL-R mRNA in any tissue, although binding of 125I-labelled lactogen was decreased in both the liver and kidney. There was an unexpected threefold rise in PRL-R mRNA in the female kidney following combined T4 and PTU treatment. Overall, there was a quite close correlation between the effects of thyroid status on PRL-R mRNA levels and specific lactogenic binding to membranes prepared from the same tissue samples. These studies provide data on the tissue distribution and size of PRL-R mRNA in rats and suggest a novel and complex tissue- and sex-dependent regulation by thyroid hormone.

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Knut R Steffensen, Soek Ying Neo, Thomas M Stulnig, Vinsensius B Vega, Safia S Rahman, Gertrud U Schuster, Jan-Åke Gustafsson, and Edison T Liu

The liver X receptors α and β (LXRα and LXRβ ) are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily of proteins which are highly expressed in metabolically active tissues. They regulate gene expression of critical genes involved in cholesterol catabolism and transport, lipid and triglyceride biosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism in response to distinct oxysterols and intermediates in the cholesterol metabolic pathway. The biological roles of the LXRs in tissues other than liver, intestine and adipose tissue are poorly elucidated. In this study we used global gene-expression profiling analysis to detect differences in expression patterns in several tissues from mice fed an LXR agonist or vehicle. Our results show that LXR plays an important role in the kidney, lung, adrenals, brain, testis and heart where several putative LXR target genes were found. The effects of the LXRs were further analysed in adrenals where treatment with an LXR agonist induced expression of adrenocorticotrophic hormone receptor, suppressed expression of uncoupling protein (UCP)-1 and UCP-3 as well as several glycolytic enzymes and led to increased serum corticosterone levels. These results indicate novel biological roles of the LXR including regulation of energy metabolism, glycolysis and steroidogenesis in the adrenals via alteration of expression profiles of putative target genes.

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M. Morra, F. Leboulenger, and H. Vaudry

ABSTRACT

We investigated the type of receptors involved in the mechanism of action of dopamine on corticosteroid secretion from the frog interrenal (adrenal) gland, using the in-vitro perifusion technique. Exposure of dispersed interrenal cells to 50 μm dopamine for 20 min had a biphasic effect on corticosterone and aldosterone secretion, i.e. a transient stimulation followed by an inhibitory phase. Repeated administration of equimolar pulses of dopamine, given at 150-min intervals, resulted in an enhancement of corticosteroid secretion followed by a subsequent blockade of the stimulatory phase of the response. In contrast, the dopamine-evoked inhibition of corticosteroid release did not show any sensitization or desensitization phenomena. Infusion of repeated pulses of the D1 receptor agonist SKF38393 (32 μm) stimulated corticosteroid release and mimicked the sensitization-desensitization phenomenon induced by dopamine. Repeated administration of the D2 receptor agonist LY171555 (50μm) resulted in a reproducible inhibition of corticosterone and aldosterone secretion. These results suggested the presence of two different receptors for dopamine, i.e. D1 and D2, on frog adrenocortical cells, responsible respectively for the stimulatory and inhibitory effects of dopamine on steroid secretion. However, bromocriptine (50 μm) and CV205-502 (50 μm), two other D2 receptor agonists, had no effect on corticosteroid release. In addition, several classical D2 receptor antagonists failed to block the effect of dopamine on steroidogenesis. It was also observed that (−)sulpiride, a specific D2 antagonist, did not alter dopamine-induced inhibition of inositol phosphate formation. On the other hand, dopamine and the selective D1 and D2 agonists SKF38393 and LY171555 did not affect the formation of cyclic AMP by interrenal tissue.

Taken together, these data indicate that dopamine directly regulates corticosteroid secretion from frog adrenocortical cells. The effect of dopamine is not coupled to adenylate cyclase activity but is probably mediated through the phosphoinositide-turnover pathway. The pharmacological characteristics of the receptors involved in the mechanism of action of dopamine clearly differ from those of the D1 and D2 subtypes previously described in mammals.

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R Sirianni, R Sirianni, BR Carr, V Pezzi, and WE Rainey

Adrenal aldosterone synthesis is influenced by a variety of factors. The major physiological regulators of aldosterone production are angiotensin II (Ang IotaIota) and potassium (K(+)). Ang IotaIota stimulates aldosterone production through the activation of multiple intracellular signaling pathways. It has recently been demonstrated that Ang IotaIota activates src tyrosine kinases in vascular smooth muscle cells. The src family of tyrosine kinases are widely distributed non-receptor kinases that influence several signal transduction pathways. In the present study we evaluated the effect of a selective src family inhibitor, PP2, on aldosterone production using a human adrenocortical carcinoma-derived (H295R) cell line. Treatments for 6 or 48 h with PP2 (0.3 microM-10 microM) inhibited basal, Ang IotaIota, K(+) and dibutyryladenosine cyclic monophosphate (dbcAMP) stimulation of aldosterone production in a concentration-dependent manner. PP2 did not affect cell viability at any of the concentrations tested. Moreover, time course studies using PP2 (10 microM) for 6, 12, 24, and 48 h revealed a time-dependent inhibition of aldosterone production. Inhibition by PP2 (0.3-10 microM) was also observed for the metabolism of 22R-hydroxycholesterol (22R-OHChol) to aldosterone in H295R cells. Since 22R-OHChol is a substrate for cytochrome P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A) that does not require steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein for transport to the inner mitochondrial membrane, these results suggest that PP2 inhibition occurred beyond the rate-limiting step in aldosterone synthesis. Genistein, a non-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor also blocked aldosterone production, but the inhibition was the result of a non-specific effect on 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3betaHSD). In contrast, PP2 did not appear to act as a direct inhibitor of 3betaHSD activity. To further investigate the site of PP2 action, we examined its effect on H295R cell metabolism of [(14)C]progesterone using thin layer chromatography. PP2 treatment for 48 h caused an increase in the conversion of progesterone to 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone. To determine if this apparent increase in 17alpha-hydroxylase activity was due to increased transcript, we examined the effect of PP2 on CYP17 mRNA. PP2 treatment caused an increase in CYP17 mRNA without an effect on 3betaHSD mRNA levels. Inhibition of protein synthesis with cycloheximide increased basal levels of CYP17 mRNA levels and blocked the induction observed by PP2. This suggests that new protein synthesis is a necessary part of PP2 induction of CYP17. Taken together these data suggest that the src tyrosine kinase inhibitor, PP2, is a potent inhibitor of aldosterone production. One mechanism for the inhibition is through an induction of CYP17 mRNA and enzyme activity. Src tyrosine kinases, therefore, may be involved with the promotion of a glomerulosa phenotype through the inhibition of CYP17 expression.