Hydrocortisone induces changes in gene expression and differentiation in immature human enterocytes

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Mar;300(3):G425-32. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00011.2010. Epub 2010 Dec 9.


It is known that functional maturation of the small intestine occurring during the weaning period is facilitated by glucocorticoids (such as hydrocortisone, HC), including an increased expression of digestive hydrolases. However, the molecular mechanisms are not well understood, particularly in the human gut. Here we report a microarray analysis of HC-induced changes in gene expression in H4 cells (a well-characterized human fetal small intestinal epithelial cell line). This study identified a large number of HC-regulated genes, some involved in metabolism, cell cycle regulation, cell-cell or cell-extracellular matrix communication. HC also regulates the expression of genes important for cell maturation such as development of cell polarity, tight junction formation, and interactions with extracellular matrices. Using human small intestinal xenografts, we also show that HC can regulate the expression of genes important for intestinal epithelial cell maturation. Our dataset may serve as a useful resource for understanding and dissecting the molecular mechanisms of intestinal epithelial cell maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / drug effects
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Polarity / drug effects
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Enterocytes / drug effects*
  • Enterocytes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • Intercellular Junctions / drug effects
  • Intercellular Junctions / genetics
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / embryology
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / transplantation
  • Mice
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Hydrocortisone