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Type: Journal article
Title: Differential actions of metyrapone on the fetal pituitary-adrenal axis in the sheep fetus in late gestation
Author: Warnes, K.
McMillen, I.
Robinson, J.
Coulter, C.
Citation: Biology of Reproduction, 2004; 71(2):620-628
Publisher: Soc Study Reproduction
Issue Date: 2004
ISSN: 0006-3363
Statement of
K.E. Warnes, I.C. McMillen, J.S. Robinson, and C.L. Coulter
Abstract: It is not clear if an increase in intra-adrenal cortisol is required to mediate the actions of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) on adrenal growth and steroidogenesis during the prepartum stimulation of the fetal pituitary-adrenal axis. We infused metyrapone, a competitive inhibitor of cortisol biosynthesis, into fetal sheep between 125 and 140 days of gestation (term = 147 ± 3 days) and measured fetal plasma cortisol, 11-desoxycortisol, and ACTH; pituitary pro-opiomelanocortin mRNA and adrenal expression of ACTH receptor (melanocortin type 2 receptor), steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11ßHSD2), cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage (CYP11A1), cytochrome P450 17-hydroxylase (CYP17), 3ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, and cytochrome P450 21-hydroxylase mRNA; and StAR protein in the fetal adrenal gland. Plasma ACTH and 11-desoxycortisol concentrations were higher (P < 0.05), whereas plasma cortisol concentrations were not significantly different in metyrapone- compared with vehicle-infused fetuses. The ratio of plasma cortisol to ACTH concentrations was higher (P < 0.0001) between 136 and 140 days than between 120 and 135 days of gestation in both metyrapone- and vehicle-infused fetuses. The combined adrenal weight and adrenocortical thickness were greater (P < 0.001), and cell density was lower (P < 0.01), in the zona fasciculata of adrenals from the metyrapone-infused group. Adrenal StAR mRNA expression was lower (P < 0.05), whereas the levels of mature StAR protein (30 kDa) were higher (P < 0.05), in the metyrapone-infused fetuses. In addition, adrenal mRNA expression of 11ßHSD2, CYP11A1, and CYP17 were higher (P < 0.05) in the metyrapone-infused fetuses. Thus, metyrapone administration may represent a unique model that allows the investigation of dissociation of the relative actions of ACTH and cortisol on fetal adrenal steroidogenesis and growth during late gestation.
Keywords: Adrenal Glands
Pituitary-Adrenal System
Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme
Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase
Steroid 21-Hydroxylase
11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2
3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 2
RNA, Messenger
Enzyme Inhibitors
Organ Size
Gestational Age
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
Description: © 2004 by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Inc.
DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod.103.025197
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 4
Obstetrics and Gynaecology publications

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