Long-Term Hypoxia Enhances Cortisol Biosynthesis in Near-Term Ovine Fetal Adrenal Cortical Cells
This study was designed to determine the potential mechanism/mechanisms of previously observed enhanced fetal cortisol secretion following exposure to long-term hypoxia (LTH). Pregnant ewes were maintained at high altitude (3820 m) for approximately the last 100 days of gestation. Between the gestation days of 138 and 141, adrenal glands were collected from LTH and age-matched normoxic control fetuses. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), cortisol, and steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein were measured in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation. Cortisol responses to ACTH were also measured in the presence of the protein kinase (PKA) inhibitor H-89, proopiomelanocortin (POMC), or 22-kDa pro-ACTH. Cortisol output was higher in the LTH group compared to the control (P <.05), following ACTH treatment while the cAMP response was similar in both groups. Although PKA inhibition decreased cortisol production in both groups, however no differences were observed between groups. Western analysis revealed a significant increase in protein expression for StAR in the LTH group (P <.05, compared to control). Proopiomelanocortin and 22-kDa pro-ACTH did not alter the cortisol response to ACTH treatment. Results from the present study taken together with those of previous in vivo studies suggest that the enhanced cortisol output in the LTH group is not the result of differences in cAMP generation or PKA. We conclude that enhanced cortisol production in LTH adrenals is the result of enhanced protein expression of StAR and potential downstream signaling pathways.
Keywords22-kDa pro-ACTH ACTH cAMP PKA StAR POMC
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