Regulation of glucocorticoid receptors in brain by corticosterone treatment of adrenalectomized rats

Neuroendocrinology. 1982 Dec;35(6):411-7. doi: 10.1159/000123429.


Binding of (3H)-corticosterone in cytosol of hippocampus and hypothalamus has been measured in adrenalectomized (ADX) rats in the presence or absence of corticosterone replacement therapy (suspended shortly before receptor analysis). Corticosterone pellet implantation into female rats or oral corticosterone administration in salinized drinking water given to males for 3 weeks reduced (3H)-corticosterone binding by half in the hippocampus. This reduction was observed whether corticosterone or dexamethasone was employed as competitor to determine nonspecific binding, thus eliminating transcortin as the cause of the corticosterone effect on binding. Scatchard analysis of binding data revealed that the reduction was mostly due to decreased number of receptors. Animals pretreated with corticosterone had a reduction in thymus weight, indicating further the biological effectiveness of the treatment. Further, serum corticosterone in ADX rats pretreated with corticosterone (but with therapy suspended for 24 h) was very low and similar to that of untreated ADX rats. Uptake studies after injection of (3H)-corticosterone intravenously into ADX rats showed that the injected hormone was absent from blood and brain tissues 1 day later, ruling out (in addition to the measurement of serum corticosterone) that the reduction in binding was due to occupation of receptor sites by exogenous corticosterone remaining after withdrawal from therapy. It is suggested that down-regulation of glucocorticoid receptors in brain follows the chronic corticosterone administration. These data are discussed in relation with evidence for down-regulation of other classes of steroid receptors in several tissues, and the consequence that changes in receptor binding in brain may have on the feedback mechanism of corticoids at the central level.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy*
  • Animals
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Corticosterone / metabolism
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / drug effects
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Dexamethasone
  • Corticosterone