Regulation of 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in the baboon placenta by estrogen

Endocrinology. 1990 May;126(5):2742-8. doi: 10.1210/endo-126-5-2742.


We have previously shown that the change in transuteroplacental cortisol (F)-cortisone (E) metabolism in vivo from preferential reduction (E to F) at midgestation to oxidation by term (F to E) does not occur in baboons in which the production or action of estrogen have been blocked. Moreover, because the administration of androstenedione (delta 4A) to baboons increased estradiol (E2) production at midgestation and induced a pattern of F-E metabolism similar to that at term, we suggested that estrogen regulates placental F-E interconversion. The present study was designed to ascertain whether estrogen regulates the activity of the placental 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta HSD) enzyme catalyzing the oxidation of F to E. Placentas were obtained on day 100 (n = 10) and day 165 (n = 10) of gestation (term = day 184) from untreated baboons, on day 100 from animals (n = 7) treated with delta 4A between days 70-100 of gestation, and on day 165 from animals in which placental estrogen was decreased by fetectomy (n = 5) on day 100 of gestation. Tissue was homogenized in phosphate buffer (pH 7.4) and microsomal fractions (105,000 x g) incubated (37 C; 2 min) in buffer containing 2.7 mM NAD+ and 0.03-1.0 microM [3H]F. Serum concentrations of E2 (nanograms per ml) in untreated baboons on day 100 (0.7 +/- 0.2) were 3-fold lower than those at term, increased (P less than 0.05) by delta 4A treatment (2.4 +/- 0.3), and decreased (0.12 +/- 0.01; P less than 0.05) by fetectomy. The specific activity (picomoles of E per min/mg protein) of placental 11 beta HSD in untreated baboons at midgestation (134 +/- 17) was increased (P less than 0.01) 3-fold by delta 4A treatment. Enzyme activity at term (148 +/- 29) was similar to that at midgestation, but markedly decreased (P less than 0.01) by fetectomy (16 +/- 4). Placental capacity to oxidize F to E (micromoles per min/placenta) in untreated baboons was 3-fold greater (P less than 0.01) at term (88 +/- 15) than at midgestation and was markedly reduced (P less than 0.01) by fetectomy (3 +/- 1). Collectively, these findings indicate that the activity of the placental 11 beta HSD enzyme catalyzing the oxidation of F to E is increased in baboons in which placental estrogen production was elevated at midgestation and decreased in animals when estrogen formation was inhibited by fetectomy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Androstenedione / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cortisone / metabolism
  • Cortisone / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism*
  • Organ Size
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Papio
  • Placenta / anatomy & histology
  • Placenta / drug effects
  • Placenta / enzymology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone / pharmacology


  • Estrogens
  • Androstenedione
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Cortisone
  • Hydrocortisone