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

Glucocorticoid metabolism in the newborn rat heart.

A relative cardiac hypertrophy has been observed in newborns chronically treated with dexamethasone. To test the hypothesis--that dexamethasone might alter steroid metabolism within the heart--rat pups were injected with vehicle, corticosterone (dosages 20 or 200 micrograms/pup/injection, or 1 mg/pup/injection) or dexamethasone (5 micrograms/pup/injection) on Day 2-6 and sacrificed on Day 7-8. Injections with dexamethasone in this dosage have induced the cardiac changes in this rat model. 11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta-OHSD) activity was assessed in hearts from these adrenally intact rat pups by incubating tissues with 3H-corticosterone 10(-8) M for 60 min. On Day 7-8, controls transformed 10.3% +/- 1.1% (mean +/- SE) of the corticosterone (Compound B) to 11-dehydrocorticosterone (Compound A) generating 1.25 +/- 0.35 x 10(-12) moles A/mg protein (n = 8). Tissues from pups pretreated with corticosterone at all three dosages were not different from controls in percent metabolized and moles A/mg generated. In contrast, hearts from dexamethasone treated pups transformed only 4.5% +/- 1.0% of the corticosterone to A generating 3.19 +/- 0.05 x 10(-13) moles A/mg protein (n = 10) (P < 0.05 versus control in moles/mg protein metabolized). Cultured cardiomyocytes exposed to dexamethasone for 4 days in vitro also decreased their expression of 11 beta-OHSD mRNA. Readily metabolized endogenous glucocorticoids produced little or no effect on developing heart muscle while treatment with dexamethasone, a potent synthetic glucocorticoid, induced relative cardiac hypertrophy and downregulated 11 beta-OHSD mRNA expression and enzyme activity.[1]


  1. Glucocorticoid metabolism in the newborn rat heart. Brem, A.S., Bina, R.B., Klinger, J.R., King, T., Werner, J.C. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. (1995) [Pubmed]
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