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Microsc Res Tech. 2003 Jun 15;61(3):315-23.

Immunohistochemical study of heat shock proteins 27, 60 and 70 in the normal human adrenal and in adrenal tumors with suppressed ACTH production.

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  • 1Institute of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Alameda Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal. dpignatelli@yahoo.com


Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are known to protect cells against various aggressions and to assist in the correct folding of nascent proteins as well as in the recovery of denatured ones. HSP70 increases its levels in the cell in response to any stress and is induced by ACTH in the adrenal gland. HSP60 is located in the mitochondria and assists in the folding of mitochondrial peptides. HSP27 is the only small HSP that is stress-induced. HSP27 and HSP70 are known to protect cells against apoptosis while, on the contrary, HSP60 is proapoptotic, increasing caspases maturation. We studied the expression of these HSPs in human adrenal tissue both in the normal glands (12 cases) and in tumoral tissue from cortisol producing adrenal adenomas (6 cases). Besides being neoplastic, these cells live in a particular ambience of lack of ACTH due to the suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary ACTH secretion induced by the elevated levels of cortisol. HSP27 is highly expressed in the normal adrenal and shows a marked reduction of expression in Cushing's adrenal tissue. Although with overall lower levels of expression in the normal adrenal, HSP70 exhibited a similar pattern of reduction in tumoral tissue. HSP60, on the other hand, increased significantly and consistently in adrenal Cushing tumors. Besides the possible consequences of incorrect folding of nascent peptides, the alterations observed in tumoral tissue seem to act in an apoptotic direction. The only factor that we observed that could be contributing to these changes was the lack of plasma ACTH.

Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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