Glucocorticoid receptors in epstein-barr virus-transformed lymphocytes from patients with glucocorticoid resistance and a glucocorticoid-resistant new world primate species

M. Tomita, D. D. Brandon, G. P. Chrousos, A. C.M. Vingerhoeds, C. M. Foster, D. Fowler, D. L. Loriaux, M. B. Lipsett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Members of a previously reported family with glucocorticoid resistance and several New World primates have high plasma cortisol concentrations without any signs of glucocorticoid excess. The glucocorticoid receptor in circulating leukocytes and cultured skin fibroblasts from these patients and the animals is characterized by a decreased affinity for dexamethasone. On the other hand, the cell content of receptor is similar to that of corresponding tissues of normal humans. Detailed biochemical-biophysical studies of the glucocorticoid receptor in this familial syndrome and animal model became possible with the use of Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphocyte lines. Cell lines from patients with this syndrome and from the marmoset (Saguinus oedipus) contained decreased amounts of glucocorticoid receptors with concomitant decreases in nuclear receptor content compared to cultured Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphocytes from normal human subjects. This may reflect diminished induction of glucocorticoid receptor during viral transformation of cells from the patients and the animal model. Receptors from a severely affected glucocorticoidresistant patient and the marmoset had decreased affinity for dexamethasone. Evidence for a mild affinity defect of the glucocorticoid receptor in a patient with asymptomatic glucocorticoid resistance was obtained by increased hormone-receptor dissociation at an elevated temperature. Thermal stability, mero-receptor formation, thermal activation of cytosolic receptor, and mol wt of receptors from all cell lines were normal. Only the receptors of the severely affected patient had a discernible defect in temperature-induced activation of intact cells. We conclude that the major detectable change in the receptor in both the patients and the animal model is the decreased affinity for glucocorticoid. Viral receptor induction is decreased in both patient and marmoset cells. The physiological relevance of this phenomenon is not known. Gross receptor molecule changes or changes in its stability at higher temperatures were not found. Mixing studies did not show involvement of cytosolic modifiers or inhibitors. Mutation(s) of the receptor molecule leading to low affinity for the hormone is the most likely explanation of the isolated glucocorticoid resistance in the patients. The glucocorticoid resistance of the New World primate, which is part of generalized steroid hormone resistance, appears to be a result of more complex changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1154
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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