Expression of p21WAF1/CIP1/SDI1 and p53 in apoptotic cells in the adrenal cortex and induction by ischemia/reperfusion injury

Vladimir V. Didenko, Xiangdong Wang, Lianqing Yang, Peter J. Hornsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


p21WAF1/CIP1/SDI1, inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases, is expressed at varying levels in human adrenal glands removed during surgery or organ recovery. In glands with p21 mRNA, nuclear p21 immunoreactivity, which was occasionally extensive, colocalized with p53 immunoreactivity and DNA damage, as evidenced by in situ end-labeling. Many cells showed morphological features of apoptosis when observed by fluorescent DNA dye staining and electron microscopy. This pattern was also associated with high levels of cytoplasmic heat shock protein 70. To address the question of the origin of p21 expression in some human adrenal glands, rat adrenal glands were subjected to 30 min of ischemia followed by 8 h of reperfusion. Cells with nuclear p21 and p53 appeared in the adrenal cortex together with DNA damage detected by in situ end-labeling. Nuclear p21 immunoreactivity was also produced in adrenal tissue fragments incubated at 37°C in vitro. However, in this case, p21 expression was confined to the cut edge of the tissue. In contrast, p21 in human adrenal glands, as in ischemic rat glands, was within the inner regions of the cortex, supporting an origin of the protein in vivo rather than postmortem. The p53/p21 pathway of reaction to cellular injury, potentially leading to apoptosis, may play a role in tissue damage such as that resulting from ischemia/reperfusion. In the human adrenal cortex this process may be a precursor of adrenal failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1723-1731
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell death
  • Cyclin-dependent kinases
  • Heat shock proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Tumor suppressor genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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