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Am J Physiol. 1998 Feb;274(2 Pt 1):E238-45.

Acute effects of thyroid hormones on the production of adrenal cAMP and corticosterone in male rats.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


The acute effects of thyroid hormones on glucocorticoid secretion were studied. Venous blood samples were collected from male rats after they received intravenous 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3) or thyroxine (T4). Zona fasciculata-reticularis (ZFR) cells were treated with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), T3, T4, ACTH plus T3, or ACTH plus T4 at 37 degrees C for 2 h. Corticosterone concentrations in plasma and cell media, and also adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) production in ZFR cells in the presence of 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, were determined. The effects of thyroid hormones on the activities of steroidogenic enzymes of ZFR cells were measured by the amounts of intermediate steroidal products separated by thin-layer chromatography. Administration of T3 and T4 suppressed the basal and the ACTH-stimulated levels of plasma corticosterone. In ZFR cells, both thyroid hormones inhibited ACTH-stimulated corticosterone secretion, but the basal corticosterone was inhibited only with T3 > 10(-10) M or T4 > 10(-8) M. Likewise, T3 or T4 at 10(-7) M inhibited the basal- and ACTH-stimulated levels of intracellular cAMP. Physiological doses of T3 and T4 decreased the activities of 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, 21-hydroxylase, and 11 beta-hydroxylase. These results suggest that thyroid hormones counteract ACTH in adrenal steroidogenesis through their inhibition of cAMP production in ZFR cells.

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