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Am J Physiol. 1994 May;266(5 Pt 1):E760-7.

Regulation of metallothionein concentrations in rat brain: effect of glucocorticoids, zinc, copper, and endotoxin.

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Departamento de Biología Celular y Fisiología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.


The effects of known inducers of liver metallothionein (MT) synthesis on MT concentrations in the rat brain have been determined using antibodies that are specific for MT I and II and do not cross-react with MT III. There were substantial differences in the MT concentrations in different areas of the brain. Dexamethasone increased MT levels after 24 h in the frontal cortex, cortex, medulla oblongata plus pons, midbrain, striatum, hippocampus, and cerebellum but not in the hypothalamus. Corticosterone produced similar results except in the hippocampus. Long-lasting adrenocorticotropic hormone increased MT concentrations after 12 h in midbrain and striatum but not in the liver. Adrenalectomy decreased MT concentrations after 6 days in the medulla oblongata plus pons, striatum, hippocampus, and hypothalamus but increased concentrations in the liver and kidneys; these effects were reversed by corticosterone. The role of glucocorticoids in the regulation of MT levels therefore differs between tissues and within specific areas of the brain. Injection of zinc or copper intracerebroventricularly and the use of a zinc-deficient diet increased and decreased MT levels, respectively, in some but not all brain areas. Endotoxin increased liver MT but not brain MT I levels after 8 h.

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