Endocrine Pathology

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 94–101 | Cite as

Immunolocalization of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in human adrenal cortex and in its disorders

  • Hironobu Sasano
  • J. lan Mason
  • Nobuaki Sasano
  • Hiroshi Nagura
Original Article


Immunohistochemical localization of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/Δ5→4-isomerase (3β-HSD), which converts Δ5-3β-hydroxysteroids to Δ4-3-ketosteroids, was performed in the human adrenal gland and in its disorders by employing a specific antibody raised against the enzyme purified from human placenta. Immunoreactivity of 3β-HSD was present in all three cortical zones of the adrenal glands obtained at autopsy, while in surgically removed adrenal glands, immunoreactivity was dominant in the zona fasciculata (ZF), with faint immunoreactivity in the zona glomerulosa (ZG) and the zona reticularis (ZR). Intracortical localization of 3β-HSD in the adrenal glands obtained at autopsy may represent an adrenal adaptation to antemortem stress, with shifting of adrenal pregnenolone- a substrate of 3β-HSD - as well as steroid 17α-hydroxylase from adrenal androgen synthesis to glucocorticoid synthesis. In adrenocortical hyperplasia, marked immunoreactivity was observed in the ZG and outer ZF in adrenal glands with idiopathic hyperaldosteronism and in the ZF and ZR, especially in cortical micronodules, in the adrenal glands associated with Cushing’s disease. In aldosteronoma and Cushing’s adenoma, immunoreactivity of the enzyme was much more intense in large clear tumor cells than in small compact tumor cells. Immunolocalization of 3β-HSD can yield important information toward an understanding of adrenal steroid metabolism in both physiological and pathological processes.


Adrenal Gland Adrenal Cortex Endocrine Pathology Volume Zona Glomerulosa Zona Fasciculata 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hironobu Sasano
    • 1
  • J. lan Mason
    • 1
  • Nobuaki Sasano
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Nagura
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyTohoku University School of MedicineAoba-kuJapan

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