Enhancement of glucocorticoid-induced 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 expression by proinflammatory cytokines in cultured human amnion fibroblasts

Endocrinology. 2003 Dec;144(12):5568-77. doi: 10.1210/en.2003-0780. Epub 2003 Sep 4.


Glucocorticoids and proinflammatory cytokines may be involved in parturition by stimulation of prostaglandin production in the fetal membranes. The actions of glucocorticoids on the fetal membranes are amplified by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1), which converts biologically inactive cortisone into active cortisol. Whether glucocorticoids and proinflammatory cytokines regulate the expression of 11beta-HSD1 in the major prostaglandin-producing tissue, amnion, thus further increasing prostaglandin production, is not known. In this study, we found that term amnion fibroblasts had higher 11beta-HSD1 mRNA and activity per cell than amnion epithelial cells. Both isoforms of glucocorticoid receptor (alpha and beta) were expressed in amnion fibroblasts and epithelial cells. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that dexamethasone (0.01-1 microm) dose-dependently induced 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression only in amnion fibroblasts but not in amnion epithelial cells. The induction of 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression by dexamethasone was blocked by glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486. Although only a modest increase or no change in 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression and activity was observed with IL-1beta (10 ng/ml) or TNFalpha (10 ng/ml) treatment, respectively, in amnion fibroblasts, combination of dexamethasone with either IL-1beta or TNFalpha significantly enhanced the induction of 11beta-HSD1 mRNA expression and activity, as compared with dexamethasone treatment alone. With prior induction of 11beta-HSD1 expression by dexamethasone, cortisone caused more prostaglandin E2 production in the amnion fibroblast. This study suggests that glucocorticoids can positively induce 11beta-HSD1 expression in amnion fibroblasts, an effect further strengthened by proinflammatory cytokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 / genetics*
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 / metabolism
  • Amnion / cytology*
  • Amnion / immunology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Drug Synergism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / immunology
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Interleukin-1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • glucocorticoid receptor alpha
  • glucocorticoid receptor beta
  • Dexamethasone
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1
  • Dinoprostone
  • Hydrocortisone