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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lack of tissue glucocorticoid reactivation in 11beta -hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 knockout mice ameliorates age-related learning impairments.

11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD-1) intracellularly regenerates active corticosterone from circulating inert 11-dehydrocorticosterone (11-DHC) in specific tissues. The hippocampus is a brain structure particularly vulnerable to glucocorticoid neurotoxicity with aging. In intact hippocampal cells in culture, 11beta-HSD-1 acts as a functional 11beta-reductase reactivating inert 11-DHC to corticosterone, thereby potentiating kainate neurotoxicity. We examined the functional significance of 11beta-HSD-1 in the central nervous system by using knockout mice. Aged wild-type mice developed elevated plasma corticosterone levels that correlated with learning deficits in the watermaze. In contrast, despite elevated plasma corticosterone levels throughout life, this glucocorticoid-associated learning deficit was ameliorated in aged 11beta-HSD-1 knockout mice, implicating lower intraneuronal corticosterone levels through lack of 11-DHC reactivation. Indeed, aged knockout mice showed significantly lower hippocampal tissue corticosterone levels than wild-type controls. These findings demonstrate that tissue corticosterone levels do not merely reflect plasma levels and appear to play a more important role in hippocampal functions than circulating blood levels. The data emphasize the crucial importance of local enzymes in determining intracellular glucocorticoid activity. Selective 11beta-HSD-1 inhibitors may protect against hippocampal function decline with age.[1]


  1. Lack of tissue glucocorticoid reactivation in 11beta -hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 knockout mice ameliorates age-related learning impairments. Yau, J.L., Noble, J., Kenyon, C.J., Hibberd, C., Kotelevtsev, Y., Mullins, J.J., Seckl, J.R. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2001) [Pubmed]
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