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

11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in the rat adrenal.

11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase ( 11 beta-HSD) catalyses the interconversion of biologically active cortisol to inactive cortisone in man, and corticosterone to 11-dehydrocorticosterone in rodents. As such, this enzyme has been shown to confer aldosterone-selectivity on the mineralocorticoid receptor and to modulate cortisol/corticosterone access to the glucocorticoid receptor ( GR). Two kinetically distinct isoforms of this enzyme have been characterized in both rodents and man; a low-affinity NADP(H)-dependent enzyme ( 11 beta-HSD1) which predominantly acts as an oxoreductase and, more recently, a high-affinity NAD-dependent uni-directional dehydrogenase ( 11 beta-HSD2). In this study we have analysed the expression of both 11 beta-HSD1 and 11 beta-HSD2 isoforms in rat adrenal cortex and medulla and have investigated their possible roles with respect to glucocorticoid-regulated enzymes mediating catecholamine biosynthesis in adrenal medullary chromaffin cells. Using a rat 11 beta-HSD1 probe and a recently cloned in-house mouse 11 beta-HSD2 cDNA probe, Northern blot analyses revealed expression of mRNA species encoding both 11 beta-HSD1 (1.4 kb) and 11 beta-HSD2 (1.9 kb) in the whole adrenal. Consistent with this, 11 beta-dehydrogenase activity (pmol 11-dehydrocorticosterone formed/ mg protein per h, mean +/- S.E.M.) in adrenal homogenates, when incubated with 50 nM corticosterone in the presence of 200 microM NAD, was 97.0 +/- 9.0 and with 500 nM corticosterone in the presence of 200 microM NADP, was 98.0 +/- 1. 4. 11-Oxoreductase activity (pmol corticosterone formed/ mg protein per h) with 500 nM 11-dehydrocorticosterone in the presence of 200 microM NADPH, was 187.7 +/- 31. 2. In situ hybridization studies of rat adrenal cortex and medulla using 35 S-labelled antisense 11 beta-HSD1 cRNA probe revealed specific localization of 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA expression predominantly to cells at the corticomedullary junction, most likely within the inner cortex. In contrast, 11 beta-HSD2 mRNA was more abundant in cortex versus medulla, and was more uniformly distributed over the adrenal gland. Negligible staining was detected using control sense probes. Ingestion of the 11 beta-HSD inhibitor, glycyrrhizic acid (> 100 mg/kg body weight per day for 4 days) resulted in significant inhibition of adrenal NADP-dependent (98.0 +/- 1.4 vs 42.5 +/- 0.4) and NAD-dependent (97.0 +/- 9.0 vs 73.2 +/- 6.7) 11 beta-dehydrogenase activity and 11-oxoreductase activity (187.7 +/- 31.2 vs 67.7 +/- 15.3). However, while levels of 11 beta-HSD1 mRNA were similarly reduced (0.85 +/- 0.07 vs 0.50 +/- 0.05 arbitrary units), those for 11 beta-HSD2 remained unchanged (0.44 +/- 0.03 vs 0.38 +/- 0.01). Levels of mRNA encoding the glucocorticoid-dependent enzyme phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase which catalyses the conversion of noradrenaline to adrenaline, were also significantly reduced in those rats given glycyrrhizic acid (1.12 +/- 0.04 vs 0.78 +/- 0.04), while those for the glucocorticoid-independent enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (1.9 kb), which catalyses the conversion of tyrosine to DOPA, were unchanged (0.64 +/- 0.04 vs 0.61 +/- 0.04). In conclusion, the rat adrenal gland expresses both 11 beta-HSD1 and 11 beta-HSD2 isoforms. 11 beta-HSD1 gene expression is localized to the adrenal cortico-medullary junction, where it is ideally placed to regulate the supply of cortex-derived corticosterone to the medullary chromaffin cells. This, together with our in vivo studies, suggests that 11 beta-HSD1 may play an important role with respect to adrenocorticosteroid regulation of adrenaline biosynthesis. The role of 11 beta-HSD2 in the adrenal remains to be elucidated.[1]


  1. 11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in the rat adrenal. Shimojo, M., Whorwood, C.B., Stewart, P.M. J. Mol. Endocrinol. (1996) [Pubmed]
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