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ISRN Oncology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 245246, 5 pages
Research Article

Expression and Regulation of 11-β Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2 Enzyme Activity in the Glucocorticoid-Sensitive CEM-C7 Human Leukemic Cell Line

1Department of Biology, Winona State University, 234 Pasteur Hall, P.O. Box 5838, Winona, MN 55987, USA
2Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 6-452 Bowen Science Building, 51 Newton Road, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

Received 17 January 2013; Accepted 6 February 2013

Academic Editors: P. Balaram, Z. S. Guo, H. T. Khong, and H. Mo

Copyright © 2013 Mark R. Garbrecht and Thomas J. Schmidt. 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.


Glucocorticoids are commonly used in the first-line treatment of hematological malignancies, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, due to the ability of these steroids to activate pro-apoptotic pathways in human lymphocytes. The goal of the current study was to examine the gene expression and enzyme activity of the microsomal enzyme, 11-β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD11B2, HSD2), which is responsible for the oxidation of bioactive glucocorticoids to their inert metabolites. Using the glucocorticoid-sensitive human leukemic cell line, CEM-C7, we were able to detect the expression of HSD2 at the level of mRNA (via RT-PCR), protein (via immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting), and enzyme activity (via conversion of tritiated cortisol to cortisone). Furthermore, we observed that HSD2 enzyme activity is down regulated in CEM-C7 cells that were pretreated with the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone (100 nM, <15 hours), and that this down regulation of enzyme activity is blocked by the administration of the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU-486. Taken collectively, these data raise the possibility that the effectiveness of glucocorticoids in the treatment of human leukemias may be influenced by: (1) the ability of these neoplastic cells to metabolize glucocorticoids via HSD2 and (2) the ability of these steroids to regulate the expression of this key enzyme.