Endogenous glucocorticoids control neutrophil mobilization from bone marrow to blood and tissues in non-inflammatory conditions

Br J Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;152(8):1291-300. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0707512. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Background and purpose: We have shown that endogenous glucocorticoids control neutrophil mobilization in the absence of inflammation. In this study the role of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in the physiological control of neutrophil mobilization was investigated, focusing on the specific mechanisms for mature neutrophils in bone marrow, circulating neutrophils and endothelial cells.

Experimental approach: Male Wistar rats were treated with RU 38486 or adrenalectomized. Cell numbers in bone marrow and circulation were morphologically quantified and expressions of L-selectin determined by flow cytometry. Expressions of P-selectin, E-selectin, PECAM-1, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were measured by immunohistochemistry on vessels of cremaster muscle and their mRNA levels quantified in primary cultured endothelial cells. NF-kappaB activity in neutrophils and endothelium was quantified by EMSA.

Key results: RU 38486 treatment altered the maturation phases of neutrophilic lineage and reduced expression of L-selectin in mature neutrophils from bone marrow; increased the number of neutrophils in the circulation and elevated the expression of L-selectin in these cells. P-selectin and E-selectin expression in endothelial cells was unchanged by adrenalectomy or RU 38486 treatment. Membrane expressions, mRNA levels of ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and PECAM-1 and NF-kappaB translocation into the nucleus were higher in the endothelium of adrenalectomized and RU 38486 treated rats.

Conclusions and implications: Endogenous glucocorticoids, through activation of GR on neutrophils, physiologically control the rolling behaviour of these cells and, by modulating endothelial functions, affect their adhesiveness. The molecular mechanism induced by activated GR is different in each cell, as NF-kappaB translocation was only altered in endothelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • L-Selectin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mifepristone
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • NF-kappa B
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • L-Selectin
  • Mifepristone