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Illicit Upregulation of Serotonin Signaling Pathway in Adrenals of Patients With High Plasma or Intra-Adrenal ACTH Levels

Abstract : Context : In the human adrenal, serotonin (5-HT), released by mast cells stimulates corticosteroid secretion through activation of type 4 serotonin receptors (5-HT4R). In primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease cells, activation of the cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway by PRKAR1A mutations triggers upregulation of the 5-HT synthesizing enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) and the 5-HT4, 5-HT6, and 5-HT7 receptors. Because ACTH stimulates cortisol secretion through activation of PKA, adrenocortical tissues exposed to sustained stimulation by ACTH may harbor increased expression of TPH and 5-HT4/6/7 receptors. Objective : To investigate the effects of long-term ACTH stimulation on the serotonergic pathway in adrenals of patients with high plasma or intra-adrenal ACTH levels. Methods Adrenal tissues were obtained from patients with Cushing disease, ectopic secretion of ACTH [paraneoplastic Cushing syndrome; (paraCS)], 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21-OHD), primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia with intra-adrenal ACTH presence, or cortisol-producing adenomas. TPH and 5-HT4/6/7 receptor expression was investigated using RT-PCR and immunochemistry in comparison with normal adrenals. Primary cultured adrenocortical cells originating from a patient with paraCS were incubated with 5-HT and 5-HTR agonists/antagonists. Results : TPH and/or 5-HT4/6/7 receptors were overexpressed in the different types of tissues. In paraCS cultured cells, the cortisol response to 5-HT was exaggerated compared with normal adrenal cells and the stimulatory action of 5-HT was reduced by 5-HT4R antagonist. Conclusion : Our results indicate that prolonged activation of the cAMP/PKA pathway by ACTH induces an aberrant serotonergic stimulatory loop in the adrenal cortex that likely participates in the pathogenesis of corticosteroid hypersecretion.
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Contributor : Céline Duparc <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 4:06:51 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 4:26:05 PM

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Julie Le Mestre, Céline Duparc, Yves Reznik, Fidéline Bonnet-Serrano, Philippe Touraine, et al.. Illicit Upregulation of Serotonin Signaling Pathway in Adrenals of Patients With High Plasma or Intra-Adrenal ACTH Levels. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Endocrine Society, 2019, 104 (11), pp.4967-4980. ⟨10.1210/jc.2019-00425⟩. ⟨hal-02419863⟩



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