The role of serum lipoproteins in steroidogenesis by the human fetal adrenal cortex

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


In the present investigation it was found that human fetal adrenal tissue maintained in organ culture secreted appreciable quantities of dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate (DS) and cortisol. Pregnenolone was also secreted in significant amounts, principally as the sulfate ester. The highest rate of secretion of these steroids by fetal adrenal tissue occurred when both ACTH and whole human serum were present in the culture medium. In the absence of ACTH, steroid secretion was low. When whole serum was replaced by lipoprotein-poor serum, the steroidogenic response to ACTH was markedly attenuated but not abolished. On the basis of these findings, it is concluded (1) that the human fetal adrenal can synthesize steroid hormones cte novo from cholesterol, (2) that ACTH is an important stimulant of steroidogenesis by the human fetal adrenal, and (3) that pTasma lipoproteins are a major source of the cholesterol utilized by the human fetal adrenal for steroidogenesis. Hence, it is likely that factors which regulate the production of fetal plasma lipoproteins are important determinants of fetal adrenal steroidogenic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-148
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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