We have established a mouse model for the growth and function of bovine and human adrenocortical cells in immunodeficient animals. We used the technique of cell transplantation, in which dispersed cells are introduced into an appropriate host in vivo to form a functional tissue. The ability to regenerate vascularized tissue, of normal histology and ultrastructure, is an inherent property of transplanted adrenocortical cells. Steroids secreted by the transplants replace the essential functions of the animals' own adrenal glands. Successful methods of transplantation described here have in common that the adrenocortical cells are permitted to aggregate in a space or matrix that provides adequate extracellular fluid and appropriate nutrients and oxygen. The present experiments show the potential of cell transplantation as a tool for the investigation of adrenocortical cell biology, molecular biology and physiology. The complete potential of the system will become apparent as new uses of the technique are devised, particularly with respect to human adrenocortical cells and to genetically modified cells.
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