Dexamethasone decreases insulin-like growth factor-I and -II via a glucocorticoid receptor dependent mechanism in developing rat brain.

OBJECTIVES: Dexamethasone (Dex) causes neurodegeneration in developing brain. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and -II (IGF-II) are potent neurotrophic and differentiation factors and play key roles in the regulation of growth and development of CNS. Current project evaluated the effects of Dex on IGF-I and -II in developing rat brains.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Sprague-Dawley rat pups in each litter were divided into vehicle (n=230) or Dex-treated (n=234) groups. Rat pups in the Dex group received one of the 3 different regimens of i.p. Dex: tapering doses (DexTD) on postnatal days (PD) 3 to PD 6 or repeated doses on PD 4 to PD 6 or single dose on PD 6. To quantify the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) blockade effect, rat pups in the DexTD group on PD 3 and 5 received vehicle or RU486 (GR blocker, 60 mg/kg) s.c., twenty minutes prior to Dex treatment.

RESULTS: Dex decreased the gain of body and brain weight while RU486 inhibited these effects. RU486 also prevented the DexTD-induced increase in caspase-3 activity and reduction in IGF-I and -II proteins. Compared to the vehicle, the expression of mRNA of IGF-I and -II decreased at 24 h after DexTD treatment, while RU486 prevented this decrease on IGF-II but not IGF-I.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that Dex via GR decreases IGF-I and -II and causes neurodegeneration in the neonatal rat brain.

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