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Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology




Herein we review our work involving dispersed adrenocortical cells from several lizard species: the Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), Yarrow's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) and the Yucatán Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans). Early work demonstrated changes in steroidogenic function of adrenocortical cells derived from adult S. undulatus associated with seasonal interactions with sex. However, new information suggests that both sexes operate within the same steroidogenic budget over season. The observed sex effect was further explored in orchiectomized and ovariectomized lizards, some supported with exogenous testosterone. Overall, a suppressive effect of testosterone was evident, especially in cells from C. elegans. Life stage added to this complex picture of adrenal steroidogenic function. This was evident when sexually mature and immature Sceloporus lizards were subjected to a nutritional stressor, cricket restriction/deprivation. There were divergent patterns of corticosterone, aldosterone, and progesterone responses and associated sensitivities of each to corticotropin (ACTH). Finally, we provide strong evidence that there are multiple, labile subpopulations of adrenocortical cells. We conclude that the rapid (days) remodeling of adrenocortical steroidogenic function through fluctuating cell subpopulations drives the circulating corticosteroid profile of Sceloporus lizard species. Interestingly, progesterone and aldosterone may be more important with corticosterone serving as essential supportive background. In the wild, the flux in adrenocortical cell subpopulations may be adversely susceptible to climate-change related disruptions in food sources and to xenobiotic/endocrine-disrupting chemicals. We urge further studies using native lizard species as bioindicators of local pollutants and as models to examine the broader eco-exposome.

Published Citation

Carsia RV, McIlroy PJ, John-Alder HB. Invited review: Adrenocortical function in avian and non-avian reptiles: insights from dispersed adrenocortical cells. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology. 2023 Jul;281:111424. Epub 2023 Apr 18. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2023.111424. PMID: 37080352