Role of glucocorticoid receptor and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α in the feed-forward induction of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 expression by cortisol in human amnion fibroblasts

Zhen Yang, Chunming Guo, Ping Zhu, Wenjiao Li, Leslie Myatt, Kang Sun

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53 Scopus citations


The amount of cortisol available to its receptors is increased by the pre-receptor enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) which converts cortisone to cortisol. We examined the molecular mechanisms of the feedback effect of cortisol on 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression in human amnion fibroblasts. Our data showed that cortisol-induced 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression dose dependently in amnion fibroblasts, which could be completely blocked both by the mRNA transcription inhibitor 5,6-dichlorobenzimidazole riboside and by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist RU486, and partially blocked by global inhibition of CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBPs) with transfection of C/EBP-specific dominant-negative expression CMV500 plasmid (AC/EBP) into the cells. Likewise, the induction of the promoter activity by cortisol could also be completely blocked by RU486 and partially by AC/EBP transfection. Progressive 5′ deletion of the 11β-HSD1 promoter located the region responsible for cortisol's induction within -204 bp upstream to the transcription start site. Specific nucleotide mutations of the putative glucocorticoid responsive element or CCAAT in this promoter region attenuated the induction by cortisol. Moreover, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that GR and C/EBPα but not C/EBPβ could bind this promoter region upon cortisol stimulation of amnion fibroblasts. In conclusion, we demonstrated that GR and C/EBPα were involved in cortisol-induced 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression via binding to 11β-HSD1 promoter in amnion fibroblasts, which may cast a feed-forward production of cortisol in the fetal membranes at the end of gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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