Enhanced dexamethasone resistance in cystic fibrosis cells: potential use for heterozygote detection and prenatal diagnosis

Science. 1978 Jul 14;201(4351):180-2. doi: 10.1126/science.663650.


Cultured skin fibroblasts from patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are more resistant to dexamethasone toxicity than are normal cells. We now report that, when fibroblasts cultured from obligate CF heterozygotes are exposed to dexamethasone, they have an intermediate survival compared to normal and homozygous CF cells. When dexamethasone survival was tested on cells from four patients undergoing amniocentesis, cells from a woman at risk of producing a child with CF showed significant dexamethasone resistance, similar to that of fibroblasts derived from lnown CF homozygotes; the other amniotic cell specimens showed dexamethasone sensitivity similar to that of normal skin fibroblasts. These data suggest that the dexamethasone resistance previously observed in skin fibroblasts may also be useful in the prenatal diagnosis of CF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amniotic Fluid / cytology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Dexamethasone / toxicity*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis


  • Dexamethasone