Cortisol modulates the induction of inflammatory gene expression in a rainbow trout macrophage cell line

Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2011 Jan;30(1):215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2010.10.010. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Glucocorticoid actions on the immune system are diverse and cell type dependent, and little is known about cell type-specific interactions and cross-talk between hormones and cytokines. In this study we have analyzed the gene expression patterns of the rainbow trout macrophage cell line RTS-11 by quantitative PCR, after exposure to combinations of cortisol plus a pro-inflammatory cytokine (e.g. recombinant trout IL-1β, IFN-γ), type I IFN or a PAMP (LPS or poly I:C). Several key genes of the inflammatory process were targetted to assess whether any modulation of their expression occurred due to the addition of cortisol to this cell line. Incubation of macrophages for 3 or 6 h with a physiological concentration of cortisol caused a decrease in expression of IL-6 and IL-8, but no significant changes were observed for the other genes examined. Co-stimulation of cortisol with the inflammatory agents resulted in a general suppression of genes related to the inflammatory response. Cortisol inhibited the up-regulation of IL-8 by all the stimulants after 3 h of co-incubation. Suppression of the up-regulation of IL-6 by rIL-1β, rIFN-γ and poly I:C, of γIP by rIFN-γ or poly I:C, and of Cox-2 by rIL-1β was seen after 6 h. In contrast, cortisol in combination with the pro-inflammatory agents has a synergistic effect on IL-10 expression, an anti-inflammatory molecule, suggesting that the activation of certain macrophage functions that lead to the resolution of inflammation occurs in fish macrophages in response to cortisol treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Hydrocortisone