Glucocorticoid receptor antagonist alters corticosterone and receptor sensitive mRNAs in the hypoxic neonatal rat


Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, Advocate Aurora Research Institute


Hypoxia, a common stressor with preterm birth, increases morbidity and mortality associated with prematurity. Glucocorticoids (GC) are administered to the preterm infant to improve oxygenation; prolonged use of GCs remains controversial. We evaluated a selective glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist (CORT113176) in our neonatal rat model of human prematurity to assess how fasting and hypoxia-induced increases in neonatal corticosterone affects endogenous hormones and endocrine pancreas function. Neonatal rat pups at postnatal day (PD) 2, PD8, and PD15 were pretreated with CORT113176 and, after 60 min of separation and fasting, exposed to hypoxia (8% O2) or control (normoxia) for 30 or 60 minutes while fasting was continued. Plasma corticosterone, ACTH, glucose, and insulin were measured and fasting HOMA-IR (index of insulin resistance) calculated. Glucocorticoid and insulin receptor sensitive gene mRNAs were analyzed in liver, muscle, and adipose to evaluate target tissue biomarkers. CORT113176 pretreatment augmented baseline and hypoxia-induced increases in corticosterone and attenuated hypoxia-induced increases in insulin resistance at PD2. Normoxic and hypoxic stress increased the hepatic GR sensitive gene mRNAs, Gilz and Per1; this was eliminated by pretreatment with CORT113176. CORT113176 pretreatment decreased baseline insulin receptor sensitive gene mRNAs Akt2, Irs1, Pik3r1, and Srebp1c at PD2. We show that CORT113176 variably augments the stress-induced increases in corticosterone concentrations (attenuation of negative feedback) and that GR is critical for hepatic responses to stress in the hypoxic neonate. We also propose that measurement of Gilz and Per1 mRNA expression may be useful to evaluate the effectiveness of GR antagonism.

Document Type


PubMed ID


Link to Full Text