Viscosity of rat adrenocortical lipids in different functional states: Morphological characteristics

D. Szabo, I. E. Toth, K. S. Szalay

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Impaired adrenocortical steroidogenic activity is often concomitant with morphologically and physiologically altered lipids in the cells of the adrenal cortex. The physical state of these lipid droplets and the morphological characteristics of crystal-shaped bodies were studied in different functional states of adrenocortical cells. In the perinatal period when steroidogenesis is suppressed by a negative feedback mechanism, crystal-shaped bodies (i.e. rectangular, electron-lucent formations, either alone or in clusters, surrounded by lysosomal matrix or in close proximity of lysosomes) were frequently observed in the inner zona fasciculata and zona reticularis. In experimentally suppressed adrenocortical activity, following the administration of dexamethasone, aminoglutethimide or cycloheximide, almost identical crystal-shaped bodies were frequently observed in adrenocortical cells. These crystal-shaped bodies appear to be cholesterol, as revealed by the digitonin reaction at the electron microscopic level. Following stimulation of the zona fasciculata by ACTH treatment for 14 days, a marked increase in the fluidity of the lipid droplets was observed in the thermotropic phase transitions with the polarizing microscope. In contrast, following aminoglutethimide treatment, the fluidity of the lipid droplets decreased. The thermotropic phase transitions of normal and neoplastic human adrenal cells, namely adrenocortical tumours causing Conn's or Gushing's syndrome, were also investigated. When hormone biosynthesis was enhanced, the appearance of birefringence and multiple phase transitions of lipid droplets was demonstrable in the low-temperature range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-335
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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