The human adrenal cortex produces a wide range of steroids that includes aldosterone, cortisol and a variety of 19 carbon (C19) steroids; the most studied being DHEA. In humans, adrenarche is the endocrine developmental process manifested by an increased adrenal output of DHEA. This phenomenon corresponds with the expansion of the zona reticularis of the adrenal gland. However, the physiological mechanisms that trigger adrenarche remain elusive. Our research focuses on better defining the C19 steroids that are produced during adrenarche as well as the mechanisms regulating C19 steroid production. Recently, we employed genomic and metabolomic analyses to better define the adrenal changes associated and the steroids produced during adrenarche. Transcriptome analysis was accomplished using laser captured fasciculata and reticularis, and metabolomic analysis of C19 steroids was done using liquid chromatography quadrupole mass spectrometry (LCMS/MS). Microarray comparison of fasciculata and reticularis defined a unique steroidogenic phenotype for both zones. The expression pattern of key steroidogenic enzymes tracked with reticularis development during adrenarche and the pattern explains the onset of DHEA production. Analysis of C19 steroids in serum from children progressing through adrenarche and adult adrenal vein samples, demonstrated the production of a spectrum of C19 steroids that includes, DHEA, 11β-hydroxyandrostenedione and androstenedione. My presentation will provide an update of our findings related to the intra-adrenal changes seen and the steroids produced during adrenarche.
20 - 22 Sep 2014
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology