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      Dehydroepiandrosterone and allopregnanolone protect sympathoadrenal medulla cells against apoptosis via antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins

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          Abstract

          The neuroactive steroids dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its sulfate ester DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), and allopregnanolone (Allo), produced by the CNS and the adrenals, appear to exert a protective effect in hippocampal and cortical neuron ischemia- and excitotoxicity-induced injury. We hypothesized that they may also play a protective role on the adrenal medulla, an important part of the sympathetic nervous system, and the tissue adjacent to their primary site of production. DHEA, DHEAS, and Allo protected rat chromaffin cells and the rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cell line, an established model for the study of adrenomedullary cell apoptosis and survival, against serum deprivation-induced apoptosis. Their effects were time- and dose-dependent, with EC50 1.8, 1.1, and 1.5 nM, respectively. The antiapoptotic effect of DHEA DHEAS and Allo was compared to that of a long list of structurally related compounds and was found to be structure-specific, confined mainly to conformation 3beta-OH-Delta5 for androstenes and 3alpha-OH for pregnanes. Indeed, 3-keto, Delta4, or C7 hydroxylated androstenes and 3beta pregnanes were ineffective. The prosurvival effect of DHEA(S) and Allo was N-methyl-D-aspartate-, GABAA-, sigma1-, or estrogen receptor-independent. It involved the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins, their role being sine qua non for their action because Bcl-2 antisense oligonucleotides reversed their effects. Finally, DHEA(S) and Allo activated cAMP response element-binding protein and NF-kappaB, upstream effectors of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein expression. They also activated the antiapoptotic kinase PKCalpha/beta, a posttranslational activator of Bcl-2 protein. Our findings suggest that decline of DHEA(S) and Allo during aging or stress may leave the adrenal medulla unprotected against proapoptotic challenges.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Neurosteroids: biosynthesis and function of these novel neuromodulators.

          Over the past decade, it has become clear that the brain is a steroidogenic organ. The steroids synthesized by the brain and nervous system, given the name neurosteroids, have a wide variety of diverse functions. In general, they mediate their actions, not through classic steroid hormone nuclear receptors, but through ion-gated neurotransmitter receptors. This paper summarizes what is known about the biosynthesis of neurosteroids, the enzymes mediating these reactions, their localization during development and in the adult, and their function and mechanisms of action in the developing and adult central and peripheral nervous systems. The expression of the steroidogenic enzymes is developmentally regulated, with some enzymes being expressed only during development, while others are expressed during development and in the adult. These enzymes are expressed in both neurons and glia, suggesting that these two cell types must work in concert to produce the appropriate active neurosteroid. The functions attributed to specific neurosteroids include modulation of GABA(A) and NMDA function, modulation of sigma receptor function, regulation of myelinization, neuroprotection, and growth of axons and dendrites. Neurosteroids have also been shown to modulate expression of particular subunits of GABA(A) and NMDA receptors, providing additional sites at which these compounds can regulate neural function. The pharmacological properties of specific neurosteroids are described, and potential uses of neurosteroids in specific neuropathologies and during normal aging in humans are also discussed. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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            Age changes and sex differences in serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations throughout adulthood.

            In a cross-sectional study, serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DS) concentrations were measured in 981 men and 481 women, aged 11-89, yr. The resulting data were asymetrically distributed and were normalized by logarithmic transformation and analyzed by 5-yr age grouping (e.g. 15-19 yr, 20-24 yr, etc.). The DS concentration peaked at age 20-24 yr in men (logarithmic mean, 3470 ng/ml) and at age 15-19 yr in women (log mean, 2470 ng/ml). Mean values then declined steadily in both sexes (log mean at greater than 70 yr of age, 670 ng/ml in men and 450 ng/ml in women) and were significantly higher in men than women at ages from 20-69 yr. Analysis of 517 randomly selected sera (from women) which had been stored frozen for 10-15 yr gave results indistinguishable from values obtained from fresh specimens. In a supplementary study, a longitudinal analysis of weekly specimens from 4 normal men, aged 36-59 yr, revealed individual variability (mean coefficient of variation, 19%) and failed to demonstrate any monthly, seasonal, or annual rhythmicity. Based on the above analyses, a table of normal serum DS ranges for adult men and women is presented for use as a clinical reference.
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              Bcl-2 phosphorylation required for anti-apoptosis function.

               T. Ito,  Earl W. May,  B Carr (1997)
              The protooncogene Bcl-2 functions as a suppressor of apoptosis in growth factor-dependent cells, but a post-receptor signaling mechanism is not known. We recently reported that interleukin 3 (IL-3) and erythropoietin, or the protein kinase C activator bryostatin-1 (Bryo), not only suppresses apoptosis but also stimulates the phosphorylation of Bcl-2 (May, W. S., Tyler, P. G., Ito, T., Armstrong, D. K., Qatsha, K. A., and Davidson, N. E. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 26865-26870). To test whether phosphorylation is required for Bcl-2 function, conservative serine --> alanine mutations were produced at the seven putative protein kinase C phosphorylation sites in Bcl-2. Results indicate that the S70A Bcl-2 mutant fails to be phosphorylated after IL-3 or Bryo stimulation and is unable to support prolonged cell survival either upon IL-3 deprivation or etoposide treatment when compared with wild-type Bcl-2. In contrast, a Ser --> Glu mutant, S70E, which may mimic a potential phosphate charge, more potently suppressed the etoposide-induced apoptosis than wild type in the absence of IL-3. Since the loss of function S70A mutant can heterodimerize with its partner protein and death effector Bax, these findings demonstrate that Bcl-2:Bax heterodimerization is not sufficient and Bcl-2 phosphorylation is required for full Bcl-2 death suppressor signaling activity.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                May 25 2004
                May 25 2004
                May 17 2004
                May 25 2004
                : 101
                : 21
                : 8209-8214
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0306631101
                419582
                15148390
                © 2004
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