Corticosterone has independent effects on tissue maturation and growth in the suckling rat

Pediatr Res. 1996 Mar;39(3):395-400. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199603000-00004.


Glucocorticoids are associated with reduced weight gain when used to improve pulmonary function in premature infants. However, tissue maturation is stimulated during normal development by an increase in serum glucocorticoids. We evaluated the effects of glucocorticoid treatment on tissue weight gain and the activity of specific enzymes in the suckling rat, with the hypothesis that these processes are independently regulated. Before the ontogenic surge in corticosterone, 6-d-old rat pups were implanted with a pellet to release corticosterone continuously at 0 (placebo), 48, 120, 240, or 360 micro g/d. We killed the pups at 7, 9, or 12 d of age and measured tissue weights and activities of sucrase and glutamine synthetase. Serum corticosterone concentrations were elevated with dose. Tissue weight gain was proportional to ln(e) serum corticosterone at all ages. In contrast, enzyme indices of tissue maturation did not respond to corticosterone until d9. Also, intestinal tissue was more sensitive than muscle to the effects of corticosterone on weight but less sensitive to its effects on maturation. We conclude that the immediate response, in terms of weight versus the delayed response of the enzymes and their reciprocal sensitivity in muscle and gut, indicates that these processes are independently regulated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Corticosterone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sucrase / metabolism
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Sucrase
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase
  • Corticosterone