Corticosteroids (CS) regulate many enzymes at both mRNA and protein levels. This study used microarrays to broadly assess regulation of various genes related to the greater urea cycle and employs pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) modeling to quantitatively analyze and compare the temporal profiles of these genes during acute and chronic exposure to methylprednisolone (MPL). One group of adrenalectomized male Wistar rats received an intravenous bolus dose (50 mg/kg) of MPL, whereas a second group received MPL by a subcutaneous infusion (Alzet osmotic pumps) at a rate of 0.3 mg/kg/hr for seven days. The rats were sacrificed at various time points over 72 hours (acute) or 168 hours (chronic) and livers were harvested. Total RNA was extracted and Affymetrix gene chips (RG_U34A for acute and RAE 230A for chronic) were used to identify genes regulated by CS. Besides five primary urea cycle enzymes, many other genes related to the urea cycle showed substantial changes in mRNA expression. Some genes that were simply up- or down-regulated after acute MPL showed complex biphasic patterns upon chronic infusion indicating involvement of secondary regulation. For the simplest patterns, indirect response models were used to describe the nuclear steroid-bound receptor mediated increase or decrease in gene transcription (e.g. tyrosine aminotransferase, glucocorticoid receptor). For the biphasic profiles, involvement of a secondary biosignal was assumed (e.g. ornithine decarboxylase, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein) and more complex models were derived. Microarrays were used successfully to explore CS effects on various urea cycle enzyme genes. PD models presented in this report describe testable hypotheses regarding molecular mechanisms and quantitatively characterize the direct or indirect regulation of various genes by CS.
Keywords: corticosteroids; genomics; methylprednisolone; pharmacodynamics; urea cycle.