Cortisol decreases the synthesis of hyaluronic acid by human aortic smooth muscle cells in culture

Atherosclerosis. 1980 Feb;35(2):135-43. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(80)90079-9.


The effect of cortisol on the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) was studied in cultured human aortic smooth muscle cells. Cortisol, at a level slightly exceeding the physiological concentration (10(-6) M), decreased the synthesis of hyaluronic acid (HA) by 50% but had no significant effect on the synthesis of sulphated GAGs. The ratio of HA to sulphated GAGs decreased by 47%. These effects were most marked in the fraction secreted into the culture medium. Cortisol neither affected the activity of the hyaluronic acid synthesizing enzyme complex in a cell-free system nor the molecular weight distribution of hyaluronic acid. We suggest that the atherogenity of cortisol and stress may be associated with their effect on the synthesis of HA by the smooth muscle cells of the arterial wall.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / complications
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Trypsin
  • Hydrocortisone