Endocrine profile and neuroendocrine challenge tests in transgenic mice expressing antisense RNA against the glucocorticoid receptor

N Barden, I S Stec, A Montkowski, F Holsboer, J M Reul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


A transgene expressing antisense RNA complementary to a fragment of the glucocorticoid receptor cDNA was incorporated into the mouse genome and resulted in a transgenic animal that has decreased glucocorticoid receptor function. The transgenic mice showed basal plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels similar to those of the normal control animals. We have further investigated changes in HPA axis regulation by use of different neuroendocrine challenge tests including a dexamethasone suppression test (DST). In comparison to normal mice, a tenfold higher dose of dexamethasone (i.e. 20 micrograms/100 g body weight) was required to suppress the basal corticosterone levels of transgenic mice. Dexamethasone (2 micrograms/100 g body weight) produced a long-lasting suppression of plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels in control mice, whereas in transgenic animals only a short-lasting decrease in ACTH levels was apparent. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) administration resulted in an enhanced response in plasma ACTH levels in transgenic mice, whereas the corticosterone response was markedly reduced. The discrepancy between ACTH and corresponding corticosterone secretions in transgenic mice could be attributed, in part, to a reduced sensitivity of the adrenal gland to stimulation by ACTH. Pituitaries of transgenic mice contained about 50% less proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA than those of control animals. No significant differences were noted in the ACTH or protein contents of normal and transgenic mice pituitary glands although a slight increase in protein content of the transgenic mouse adrenal gland was apparent. In conclusion, transgenic mice with impaired GR function show major disturbances in HPA axis regulation which seem to be caused by the primary defect in conjunction with secondary modifications in, amongst others, pituitary CRH receptor system(s), sympathetic output and adrenal development. This mouse is therefore a useful model to study the consequences of life-long defective GR function and HPA axis regulation in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-20
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1997


  • Adrenal Glands
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Corticosterone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endocrine System
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurosecretory Systems
  • Pituitary Gland
  • RNA, Antisense
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid


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