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

Glucocorticoids both stimulate and inhibit production of pulmonary surfactant protein A in fetal human lung.

Pulmonary surfactant is a mixture of phospholipids and proteins which stabilizes lung alveoli and prevents respiratory failure. The surfactant-associated protein of Mr = 28,000-36,000 ( SP-A) influences the structure, function (film formation), and metabolism of surfactant. We have characterized glucocorticoid regulation of SP-A and SP-A mRNA in explants of fetal human lung. The time course of response to dexamethasone was biphasic, with early stimulation and later inhibition of SP-A accumulation. Maximal induction of SP-A occurred with 3-10 nM dexamethasone and approximately 300 nM cortisol for 72 hr, and stimulation diminished at higher concentrations. SP-A mRNA accumulation was maximally stimulated at 24-48 hr of exposure to dexamethasone (10 nM) and was generally inhibited by 4-6 days. Stimulation was also observed with cortisone and corticosterone but not with sex steroids, suggesting a receptor-mediated process. When explants were exposed to cortisol for only 24 hr, SP-A content was transiently increased above the level in continuously treated tissue and subsequently was similar to control. The content of SP-A and its mRNA was also increased by dibromo-cAMP, terbutaline, and forskolin, and effects were approximately additive with those of dexamethasone. However, elevated in tracellular cAMP did not alter the biphasic time course or dose-response patterns of dexamethasone. We propose that glucocorticoids have both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on SP-A gene expression. This biphasic regulation is not consistent with generalized toxic effects, product-feedback inhibition, or receptor down-regulation, and it appears to be specific for SP-A among the various surfactant components.[1]


  1. Glucocorticoids both stimulate and inhibit production of pulmonary surfactant protein A in fetal human lung. Liley, H.G., White, R.T., Benson, B.J., Ballard, P.L. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1988) [Pubmed]
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