The adrenal cortex is a crucial endocrine gland in the mammalian stress response. In chronic inflammatory stress, cortisol is elevated whereas adrenal androgens are decreased. Furthermore, ACTH levels have poor correlation with the plasma cortisol in these conditions, thus suggesting that other factors are driving the stress response during chronic inflammatory stress. Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cytokine which is released during chronic inflammatory stress, is assumed to be one such factor. Thus the biochemical pathways by which IL-6 increases cortisol release from the zona fasciculata (ZF), and decreases adrenal androgen release from the zona reticularis (ZR) were investigated. Since IL-6 activates AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) in skeletal muscle, AMPK was investigated for IL-6- induced effects in ZF and ZR tissue. The effects of AMPK activation and IL-6 exposure on the expression of the steroidogenic proteins, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) and cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), and on the steroidogenic nuclear factors steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) and adrenal hypoplasia congenita, critical region on the X chromosome, gene-1 (DAX-1) were investigated. AMPK activation and IL-6 exposure increased the expression of StAR, P450scc, and SF-1, and decreased DAX-1 in the ZF. Meanwhile, AMPK activation and IL-6 exposure decreased the expression of StAR, P450scc, and SF-1, and increased DAX-1 in the ZR. AMPK inhibition blocked the effects of AMPK activation and IL-6 on the ZF and ZR. Activator Protein-1 (AP-1) was the second biochemical intermediate studied since in other tissues AMPK activation increases the expression and phosphorylation of AP-1 subunits. IL-6 stimulation and AMPK activation increased the expression of the AP-1 subunits cFOS, cJUN, JUN B, and JUN D, while increasing the phosphorylation of cJUN in both the ZF and the ZR. These effects were blocked by AMPK inhibition. Inhibition of AP-1 leads to decreased StAR, P450scc, and SF-1, and increased DAX-1 in the ZF. Meanwhile, AP-1 inhibition leads to increased StAR, P450scc, SF-1, and decreased DAX-1 in the ZR. Therefore the AP-1 complex functions as a biochemical intermediate in the IL-6 and AMPK regulation of steroidogenic enzymes in the ZF and ZR. Overall, the results suggest that IL-6 activates AMPK, which increases the expression and phosphorylation of AP-1 subunits in the ZF and the ZR. However, increased AP-1 activation leads to increased StAR and P450scc in the ZF, but decreased StAR and P450scc in the ZR.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Physiology and Developmental Biology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
De Silva, Matharage Shenali, "Involvement of AMPK and AP-1 Biochemical Pathways in IL-6 Regulation of Steroidogenic Enzymes in the Adrenal Cortex" (2013). All Theses and Dissertations. 4301.
adrenal cortex, zona fasciculata, zona reticularis, chronic inflammatory stress, interleukin-6, AMP-activated protein kinase, activator protein-1, StAR, P450scc, SF-1, DAX-1