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

Developmental expression of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor and the advent of steroidogenesis in rat adrenal glands.

Although the precise mechanism whereby cholesterol is transported across the outer mitochondrial membrane is uncertain, a multimeric receptor complex termed the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) appears essential for this process. We therefore predicted that adrenal cells at different developmental stages would express PBR coincidentally with the advent of steroidogenesis. Adrenals of neonatal rats demonstrate greatly reduced sensitivity to ACTH that gradually increases after the first 2 weeks of life. Thus, neonates have lower circulating corticosterone levels following exposure to stress. We examined mitochondrial PBR ligand binding activity, immunoreactive (ir) PBR content, and adrenal sensitivity to ACTH in vivo and in vitro. Ontogeny of both mitochondrial PBR ligand binding capacity and irPBR directly paralleled that of ACTH-inducible steroidogenesis in isolated rat adrenal cells and in rats injected with ACTH. In addition, neonatal PBR had approximately 2-fold higher affinity for PK11195, a synthetic ligand that binds with high affinity to PBR. No correlation was observed during neonatal life between ir-steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein content and steroidogenesis. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that PBR is an absolute prerequisite for adrenocortical steroidogenesis, and suggest that the stress hyporesponsive period of neonatal rats may result from decreased PBR expression. In addition, the higher affinity of neonatal PBR and the relatively high basal expression of StAR protein in neonatal adrenals may partly explain the high constitutive steroidogenesis characteristic of neonatal rat adrenal cells.[1]


  1. Developmental expression of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor and the advent of steroidogenesis in rat adrenal glands. Zilz, A., Li, H., Castello, R., Papadopoulos, V., Widmaier, E.P. Endocrinology (1999) [Pubmed]
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