The mechanisms underlying the differentiation of the adrenal cortex into zones are unclear. Microarray studies on RNA from microdissected zona reticularis (ZR) and zona fasciculata/zona glomerulosa (ZF/ZG) derived from adult human adrenal glands showed that a gene of the dickkopf family (DKK), DKK3, is differentially expressed in the zones. The Dickkopf proteins are morphogens involved in Wnt signalling. Northern blotting showed higher DKK3 transcript levels in ZF/ZG than ZR samples. In situ hybridization on adult human adrenal gland sections showed that DKK3 expression was much higher in the ZG than in the ZF or ZR. DKK3 expression was also higher in the medulla. We screened for expression of other members of the DKK family and the related Wingless-type mouse mammary tumor virus integration site gene family (WNT), frizzled (FZD), and dishevelled (DVL) gene families. Among dickkopf family members, only DKK3 was expressed at a detectable level in both human and mouse adrenocortical RNA samples. Consistent with previously published data on the effects of Wnt4 gene disruption in the mouse, we found only WNT4 expression within the WNT family in both human and mouse RNA. Northern blotting showed that WNT4 was expressed at a higher level in ZF/ZG cells than in ZR. The higher level of DKK3 and WNT4 expression in ZF/ZG cells was confirmed by real-time PCR. In the frizzled and dishevelled families we found FZD1, FZD2 and DVL3 transcripts in human adrenocortical RNA, and FZD2 and DVL3 in mouse adrenocortical RNA. These data show that a variety of genes of the Wnt signalling pathways are expressed in the adrenal cortex. The zonal distribution of DKK3 expression suggests that it could be involved in zonal differentiation or growth.
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T Suwa, M Chen, CL Hawks, and PJ Hornsby
TY Tai, JY Lu, CL Chen, MY Lai, PJ Chen, JH Kao, CZ Lee, HS Lee, LM Chuang, and YM Jeng
This study aimed at elucidating the effects of interferon (IFN)-alpha on glucose metabolism in patients with chronic hepatitis B and C infections. Twenty-eight biopsy-proven patients with chronic hepatitis B (ten cases) and hepatitis C (18 cases) were given IFN-alpha for a total of 24 weeks. The patients received a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), glucagon stimulation test, tests for type 1 diabetes-related autoantibodies and an insulin suppression test before and after IFN-alpha therapy. Ten of the 28 patients responded to IFN-alpha therapy. Steady-state plasma glucose of the insulin suppression test decreased significantly in responders (13.32+/-1.48 (S.E.M.) vs 11.33+/-1.19 mmol/l, P=0.0501) but not in non-responders (12.29+/-1.24 vs 11.11+/-0.99 mmol/l, P=0.2110) immediately after completion of IFN-alpha treatment. In the oral glucose tolerance test, no significant difference was observed in plasma glucose in either responders (10.17+/-0.23 vs 10.03+/-0.22 mmol/l) or non-responders (10.11+/-0.22 vs 9.97+/-0.21 mmol/l) 3 Months after completion of IFN-alpha treatment. However, significant differences were noted in C-peptide in both responders (2.90+/-0.13 vs 2.20+/-0.09 nmol/l, P=0.0040) and non-responders (2.45+/-0.11 vs 2.22+/-0.08 nmol/l, P=0.0287) before vs after treatment. The changes of C-peptide in an OGTT between responders and non-responders were also significantly different (P=0.0028), with responders reporting a greater reduction in C-peptide. No case developed autoantibodies during the treatment. In patients who were successfully treated with IFN-alpha, insulin sensitivity improved and their plasma glucose stayed at the same level without secreting as much insulin from islet beta-cells.