Correlation Between Differentiation of Adrenocortical Zones and Telomere Lengths Measured by Q-FISH

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Nov 1;104(11):5642-5650. doi: 10.1210/jc.2019-00592.


Context: Adrenocortical zonation is associated with a markedly complex developmental process, and the pathogenesis and/or etiology of many disorders of adrenocortical zonal development have remained unknown. Cells from the three adrenocortical zones are morphologically and functionally differentiated, and the mature stage of cell development or senescence has been recently reported to be correlated with telomere length. However, the telomere length of each adrenocortical zonal cell has not yet been studied in human adrenal glands.

Objective: We aimed to study the telomere lengths of adrenocortical parenchymal cells from three different zones of the adrenal glands present during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Methods: Adrenal glands of 30 autopsied subjects, aged between 0 and 68 years, were retrieved from pathology files. The normalized telomere to centromere ratio (NTCR), an index of telomere length, was determined in the parenchymal cells of the zona glomerulosa, zona fasciculata, and zona reticularis (ZR), using quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization.

Results: NTCR of ZR cells was the longest, followed in decreasing order by that of zona glomerulosa and zona fasciculata cells in subjects aged 20 to 68 years, but no substantial differences in NTCR were detected among these three zones in the group <20 years of age. NTCR of ZR increased with age in subjects aged 20 to 68 years, whereas no important age-dependent changes in NTCR were detected in the group <20 years of age.

Conclusion: The telomere lengths for three zones in adrenal cortex were correlated with their differentiation in adulthood but not in childhood and adolescence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex / cytology
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Telomere*
  • Young Adult