Modulation of adrenocorticotropin-stimulated baboon fetal adrenal dehydroepiandrosterone formation in vitro by estrogen at mid- and late gestation

Endocrinology. 1990 Jun;126(6):3083-8. doi: 10.1210/endo-126-6-3083.


We have reported that ACTH stimulation of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA) formation by the baboon fetal adrenal at midgestation was suppressed by estrogen. Because fetal adrenal regulation changes with advancing gestation, the action of estrogen on fetal adrenal steroidogenesis may also be dependent on the degree of fetal adrenal maturation. We examined this possibility in the present study by determining the effects of ACTH and estrogen on DHA formation by adrenal cells of fetuses obtained from baboons at mid- and late gestation and from animals administered the antiestrogen MER-25 throughout late gestation. Because low density lipoprotein (LDL) provides substrate for the fetal adrenal, we also determined whether the effect of estrogen was mediated by LDL uptake. Adrenals were removed from baboon fetuses on day 100 (midgestation; n = 7) and day 170 (late gestation; n = 6; term, day 184) of gestation from untreated animals and on day 170 from fetuses whose mothers were treated with MER-25 on days 140-170 (25 mg/kg; n = 7). Cells were dispersed with 0.2% collagenase and incubated at 37 C for 3 h in 4 ml medium 199 with 10 nM ACTH, 10(-6) M estradiol and/or 500 micrograms LDL. The secretion of DHA into medium was determined by RIA. At midgestation, mean (+/- SE) basal DHA formation (nanograms per 10(5) cells/3 h) was 5.8 +/- 2.1, and DHA was increased (P less than 0.01) by ACTH to 20.0 +/- 5.9. Although estradiol alone had no effect, estradiol prevented the increase in DHA obtained with ACTH. Basal DHA production by adrenals of late gestation (0.7 +/- 0.3 ng/10(5) cells) was lower (P less than 0.01) than at midgestation. ACTH increased (P less than 0.01) DHA in a comparable manner near term in the presence (2.0 +/- 0.4) or absence (1.7 +/- 0.4) of estradiol. Thus, in contrast to day 100, estrogen did not attenuate the action of ACTH on adrenal cells on day 170. In fetal adrenal cells obtained on day 170 from MER-25-treated baboons, DHA formation (1.4 +/- 0.6 ng/10(5) cells) was comparably increased (P less than 0.05) to 2.4 +/- 0.2 and 3.0 +/- 0.5 ng/10(5) cells by ACTH in the absence or presence of estradiol. Thus, ACTH remained effective in enhancing DHA by adrenal cells of fetuses exposed in utero to antiestrogen. DHA formation by adrenals of midgestation was increased (P less than 0.05) to 15.4 +/- 4.8 and 27.4 +/- 7.5 ng/10(5) cells, respectively, by LDL and ACTH plus LDL.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / drug effects
  • Adrenal Glands / embryology*
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / biosynthesis*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Ethamoxytriphetol / pharmacology
  • Gestational Age
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / pharmacology
  • Papio


  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Ethamoxytriphetol
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone