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Ex vivo stimulation of whole blood as a means to determine glucocorticoid sensitivity

Authors Burnsides, Corry, Alexander, Balint, Cosmar, Phillips G, Webster-Marketon J

Received 4 May 2012

Accepted for publication 14 June 2012

Published 22 August 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 89—97


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Christopher Burnsides,1,* Jacqueline Corry,1,* Jacob Alexander,1 Catherine Balint,1 David Cosmar,1 Gary Phillips,2 Jeanette I Webster Marketon1,3

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, 2Center for Biostatistics, 3Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

*JC and CB have equally contributed to this work

Purpose: Glucocorticoids are commonly prescribed to treat a number of diseases including the majority of inflammatory diseases. Despite considerable interpersonal variability in response to glucocorticoids, an insensitivity rate of about 30%, and the risk of adverse side effects of glucocorticoid therapy, currently no assay is performed to determine sensitivity.
Patients and methods: Here we propose a whole blood ex vivo stimulation assay to interrogate known glucocorticoid receptor (GR) up- and downregulated genes to indicate glucocorticoid sensitivity. We have chosen to employ real-time PCR in order to provide a relatively fast and inexpensive assay.
Results: We show that the GR-regulated genes, GILZ and FKBP51, are upregulated in whole blood by treatment with dexamethasone and that LPS-induction of cytokines (IL-6 and TNFα) are repressed by dexamethasone in a dose responsive manner. There is considerable interpersonal variability in the maximum induction of these genes but little variation in the EC50 and IC50 concentrations. The regulation of the GR-induced genes differs throughout the day whereas the suppression of LPS-induced cytokines is not as sensitive to time of day.
Conclusion: In all, this assay would provide a method to determine glucocorticoid receptor responsiveness in whole blood.

Keywords: glucocorticoid responsiveness, gene regulation, nuclear receptor, GILZ, FKBP51, cytokines

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