Glucocorticoids are released from the adrenal cortex and are important for regulating various physiological functions. However, a persistent increase in glucocorticoids due to chronic stress causes various dysfunctions in the central nervous system which can lead to mental disorders such as depression. Macroautophagy, one of the pathways of the autophagy-lysosome protein degradation system, is dysregulated in psychiatric disorders, implicating a disturbance of protein degradation in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. In the present study, we investigated whether glucocorticoids affect the activity of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) and microautophagy (mA), the other two pathways of the autophagy-lysosome system. Treatment of human-derived AD293 cells and primary cultured rat cortical neurons with dexamethasone, a potent glucocorticoid receptor agonist, and endogenous glucocorticoids decreased both CMA and mA activities. However, this decrease was significantly suppressed by treatment with RU-486, a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist. In addition, dexamethasone significantly decreased lysosomal Hsc70. These findings suggest that glucocorticoids negatively regulate CMA and mA in a glucocorticoid receptor-dependent manner, and provide evidence for CMA and mA as novel therapeutic targets for depression.
Keywords: Chaperone-mediated autophagy; Glucocorticoid; Heat shock cognate protein 70; Microautophay.
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