In the present investigation we evaluated the effect of prostaglandins on the rate of steroid secretion by human fetal adrenal (HFA) tissue. Prostaglandins F2 alpha and E2 (10 micrograms/ml) were added to the culture medium in the presence or absence of ACTH (1 micrograms/ml). The medium was assayed for content of cortisol (F), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DS) and pregnenolone sulfate (PS) by radioimmunoassay. When HFA tissue fragments were maintained in the absence of ACTH, F secretion was low; PGF2 alpha but not PGE2 suppressed F secretion by 60-65%. When ACTH was added to the culture medium, the secretion rate of F increased 15-fold, whereas DS and PS secretion was maintained at or near initial rates of secretion. The addition of PGF2 alpha to the culture medium containing ACTH resulted in a 80% decrease in F secretion, but PGE2 only suppressed F secretion by 50%. In contrast, PGE2 or PGF2 alpha had little effect on the rate of DS or PS secretion either in the presence or absence of ACTH. In conclusion, prostaglandins appear to inhibit the secretion of F, but not of DS or PS by the HFA.
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