Flow cytometric determination of glucocorticoid receptor (GCR) expression in lymphocyte subpopulations: Lower quantity of GCR in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

K. Gotovac, A. Sabioncello, S. Rabatić, T. Berki, D. Dekaris

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Assessment of the intracellular glucocorticoid receptor (GCR) level may be useful in monitoring functional disturbances of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis or effects of prolonged steroid therapy. Cytosolic ligand binding assays have recently been supplemented by flow cytometric determination of receptor expression in individual cells. A method based on multiparametric analysis of whole blood by simultaneous labelling of intracellular GCRs and surface markers of lymphocyte subsets is described. We examined 25 healthy male volunteers and 35 age- and sex-matched post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients within 8 years from traumatic event. PTSD patients had a lower relative quantity of GCR in all lymphocyte populations tested as compared with healthy volunteers. NK cells of both groups showed higher expression of GCR than other lymphocyte subsets. In PTSD patients, the expression of GCR in B lymphocytes was also higher than in T cell. Although serum cortisol level was lower in PTSD patients, there was no correlation between cortisol level and GCR expression. Multiparameter flow cytometric determination of GCR expression in lymphocyte subpopulations may provide a useful tool for monitoring immunoregulatory action of glucocorticoids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2003



  • Cortisol
  • HPA-axis
  • Immunophenotyping
  • NK cells
  • War veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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