Adiponectin is an abundantly circulating adipokine, orchestrating its effects through two 7-transmembrane receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2). Steroidogenesis is regulated by a variety of neuropeptides and adipokines. Earlier studies have reported adipokine mediated steroid production. A key rate-limiting step in steroidogenesis is cholesterol transportation across the mitochondrial membrane by steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR). Several signalling pathways regulate StAR expression. The actions of adiponectin and its role in human adrenocortical steroid biosynthesis are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of adiponectin on StAR protein expression, steroidogenic genes, and cortisol production and to dissect the signalling cascades involved in the activation of StAR expression. Using qRT-PCR, Western blot analysis and ELISA, we have demonstrated that stimulation of human adrenocortical H295R cells with adiponectin results in increased cortisol secretion. This effect is accompanied by increased expression of key steroidogenic pathway genes including StAR protein expression via ERK1/2 and AMPK-dependent pathways. This has implications for our understanding of adiponectin receptor activation and peripheral steroidogenesis. Finally, our study aims to emphasise the key role of adipokines in the integration of metabolic activity and energy balance partly via the regulation of adrenal steroid production.
Ramanjaneya, M., Conner, A. C., Brown, J., Chen, J., Digby, J. E., Barber, T. M., Lehnert, H., & Randeva, H. S. (2011). Adiponectin (15-36) stimulates steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein expression and cortisol production in human adrenocortical cells: role of AMPK and MAPK kinase pathways. BBA - Molecular Cell Research, 1813(5), 802-809. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2011.02.010