Evidence for fasting induced extra-adrenal steroidogenesis in the male brown anole, Anolis sagrei
The Eagle Biosciences DHEA ELISA was used in a recent study testing if fasting could induce adrenal tissues to produce glucocorticoids (GCs) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to coordinate different physiological processes.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are steroids secreted by the adrenal glands into circulation to effect distant target tissues and coordinate physiological processes. This classic systemic view of steroids has been challenged by evidence that other tissues can independently synthesize their own steroids. Little is known however regarding circumstances that can promote this extra-adrenal steroidogenesis. Here we tested if fasting can induce tissues to increase GC and DHEA synthesis in the brown anole lizard Anolis sagrei. Lizards fasted for eight days lost body mass and increased fatty acid oxidation. Fasting also increased plasma concentrations of DHEA and corticosterone, but not cortisol. Corticosterone concentration within the adrenals, heart, intestines, lungs and liver exceeded that in plasma, with the latter two increasing with fasting. Levels of DHEA in the adrenals and heart were higher than in plasma, but no significant effect of fasting was observed, expect for a noticeable increase in intestinal DHEA. Two steroidogenic genes, the steroidogenic acute regulatory (Star) protein and Cyp17a1, a cytochrome P450 enzyme, were expressed in several tissues including the liver, lungs and intestines, which were increased with fasting. Continued research should aim to test for expression of additional enzymes further along the steroidogenic pathway. Nonetheless these data document potential extra-adrenal steroidogenesis as a possible mechanism for coping with energy shortages, although much work remains to be done to determine the specific roles of locally synthesized steroids in each tissue.
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