Steroidogenic Enzyme Activities in Cultured Human Definitive Zone Adrenocortical Cells: Comparison with Bovine Adrenocortical Cells and Resultant Differences in Adrenal Androgen Synthesis

Peter J. Hornsby, Kathy A. Aldern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

The activities of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydro-genase, 17-hydroxylase, 21-hydroxylase, 11β-hydroxylase, C17,20-lyase, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfotransferase were measured in cultured human fetal definitive zone adrenocortical cells with and without prior exposure to 1 εM ACTH for 48 h. Enzyme induction and measurements of activity were performed using serum- and lipoprotein-free conditions. ACTH induced increases of 5- to 100-fold in the activity of all of these enzymes. Although 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity was increased 15-fold, its activity was still an order of magnitude less than that of the hydroxylases. In contrast, when similar experiments were performed using bovine adrenocortical cells, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity was similar to that of the hydroxylases after induction with ACTH. The lower activity of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in human cells compared to that in bovine cells resulted in different sequences of transformation of [3H]pregnenolone. The initial product in human cells, before or after induction with ACTH, was 17-hydroxypregnen-olone, which was then converted about equally to cortisol (via 17-hydroxyprogesterone and 11-deoxycortisol) and dehydro-epiandrosterone sulfate (via dehydroepiandrosterone). In contrast, bovine cells converted pregnenolone to progesterone, with or without prior exposure to ACTH, which was then converted to 17-hydroxyprogesterone, with minimal formation of dehy-droepiandrosterone. Adrenal androgen synthesis by human ad-renocortical cells thus results from low 3β-hydroxysteroid de-hydrogenase, which is an intrinsic cell property. Since these experiments were performed using serum-free conditions, cells were not exposed to hormones other than ACTH. The results support the hypothesis that human adrenal androgen synthesis does not require a special hormone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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