Human fetal adrenal growth after midgestation is very rapid and appears to be dependent upon pituitary adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) in vivo. We hypothesized that the regulation of fetal adrenal growth by ACTH is mediated by ACTH-stimulated local growth factor production. As we have found basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) to be a potent mitogen for human fetal adrenal cells in culture, we conducted studies to determine whether bFGF is synthesized by the human fetal adrenal gland and whether bFGF gene expression in primary cultures of human fetal adrenal cells is regulated by ACTH. Bioassayable bFGF-like activity was detected in extracts of whole human fetal adrenal glands and primary cultures of human fetal adrenal cells. Northern blot analysis of total RNA from whole human fetal adrenal glands revealed a characteristic 7-kilobase bFGF mRNA, indicating that the fetal adrenal bFGF bioactivity was most likely due to local synthesis. Slot blot and ribonuclease protection analysis showed that bFGF mRNA was present in very low amounts in total RNA from primary cultures of unstimulated human fetal adrenal cells but was increased 2- to 3-fold in cells exposed to 10 nM ACTH-(1-24) or 1 mM 8-bromoadenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate for 24 hr. bFGF mRNA was localized to adrenocortical cells and not fibroblasts by in situ hybridization. bFGF mRNA was barely detectable in unstimulated cells, whereas it was markedly increased in cells exposed to either ACTH or 8-bromoadenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate. These data support our hypothesis that the regulation of human fetal adrenal growth by ACTH at midgestation may be mediated by the stimulation of local growth factor production, and we suggest that bFGF may play a major role in this process.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 15 1991|
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