Regulation of Steroid Secretion by Adrenal Tissue of a Human Anencephalic Fetus

B. R. Carr, C. R. Parker, J. C. Porter, P. C. MacDonald, E. R. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


ACTH-stimulated adrenal tissue of a human anencephalic fetus, when maintained in organ culture, secreted appreciable quantities of cortisol but little dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate or pregnenolone sulfate. In the absence of ACTH, cortisol secretion was severely attenuated. Arginine vasopressin or aMSH, when added to the culture medium, did not stimulate steroid secretion. When whole human serum was present in the culture medium bathing the adrenal tissue of the anencephalic fetus, the rate of cortisol secretion was similar to that attained when lipoprotein-poor serum was in the medium. Based on these findings, it is concluded that in the presence of ACTH, the adrenals of the anencephalic fetus secrete principally cortisol, and the failure of dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate and pregnenolone sulfate secretion is due to the absence of the fetal zone. The lack of stimulation of cortisol secretion by lipoprotein is probably due to a reduced number of low density lipoprotein receptors resulting from diminished ACTH stimulation before birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-873
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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