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The adrenal gland of newt Triturus carnifex (Amphibia, Urodela) following in vivo betamethasone administration

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The response of the adrenal gland of Triturus carnifex to betamethasone administration was studied; the effects were evaluated by examination of the ultrastructural morphological features of the tissues as well as the serum levels of aldosterone, corticosterone, norepinephrine and epinephrine. In March and June, betamethasone significantly decreased the serum levels of aldosterone and corticosterone and the lipid droplet content in the steroidogenic cells. Moreover, betamethasone influenced the chromaffin tissue, enhancing in March (when the chromaffin cells produce norepinephrine and epinephrine in almost equal quantities) epinephrine serum levels and the numeric ratio between norepinephrine and epinephrine granules in the chromaffin cells. In June, (when the chromaffin cells contain almost exclusively norepinephrine granules) betamethasone administration raised norepinephrine serum levels, whereas a decrease in the numeric ratio between norepinephrine and epinephrine granules in the chromaffin cells was found. Finally, betamethasone administration did not evoke in June any increase in the mean number of epinephrine granules in the chromaffin cells and/or in epinephrine serum levels, as would be expected if phenyletanolamine-N-methyl transferase (PNMT) enzyme, converting norepinephrine into epinephrine, were activated by corticosteroids. The results of this study showed that betamethasone decreased aldosterone and corticosterone serum levels and enhanced catecholamine serum concentrations. Moreover, the present results suggest that a stimulatory role of glucocorticoids on PNMT enzyme may be ruled out.

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The authors thank Dr. Tullio Criscuolo for assistance in the determination of serum aldosterone and catecholamine levels and Mr. Giuseppe Falcone for typing and for preparing the illustrations.

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Correspondence to Anna Capaldo.

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Capaldo, A., Gay, F., De Falco, M. et al. The adrenal gland of newt Triturus carnifex (Amphibia, Urodela) following in vivo betamethasone administration. Anat Embryol 211, 577 (2006).

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  • Adrenal gland
  • Aldosterone
  • Catecholamines
  • Corticosterone
  • Ultrastructure