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HPB Surgery
Volume 1 (1989), Issue 4, Pages 271-281

Structural and Functional Alterations in The Zona Fasciculata of The Rat Adrenal Cortex in Obstructive Jaundice

The University of Texas Medical School Houston, Texas, USA

Received 18 July 1988

Copyright © 1989 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigated the effect of experimentally-induced cholestasis in the rat on the structure and function of the zona fasciculata, the glucocorticoid secretory region of the adrenal cortex. Wistar-Furth rats (200-250g) were assigned to three groups: bile duct ligated (BDL), Sham operated (Sham) and unmodified normal control (NC). On day 14, serum bilirubin and liver histology were performed to confirm cholestasis in BDL animals together with basal 24 hour 17-hydroxycorti-costeroid excretion, adrenal histology and zona fasciculata ultrastructure in all experimental groups. Following this laparotomy, structural and functional studies were repeated on day 15 to evaluate the response of the gland to surgically induced stress. Basal 24 hr. 17-hydroxycorticoid steroid excretion was elevated in BDL animals (26.9 ±3.2 μ g/24 hr) with respect to Sham (10.4 ± 2.3) and NC groups (13.5 ± 3.2) (p <0.05). Adrenal histology and ultrastructural studies demonstrated excessive accumulation of vesicles laden with glucocorticoid biogenic precursors. Following surgical stress 24 hr 17 OH corticosteroid excretion increased in all groups: BDL (31.0 ± 3.0 μg/24 hr) vs Sham (15.6 ± 1.8) and NC (14.5 ± 2.4) Moderate alterations in zona fasciculata architecture were seen following surgery in all groups. Cholestasis induces overactivity of the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex, and may modify the normal metabolic responses to surgical and other stresses.