The expression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) messenger RNA (mRNA) was investigated in sc adipose tissue and isolated adipocytes from the abdominal and gluteal regions in men and women using a human GR complementary RNA probe. GR mRNA levels were 2-fold higher in female than in male abdominal tissue or adipocytes, whereas in gluteal tissue or adipocytes no sex differences were observed. GR mRNA levels in female abdominal adipocytes were 50% higher than in corresponding female gluteal adipocytes; the opposite was observed in males. Northern blot analysis of total cellular RNA isolated from abdominal and gluteal adipocytes showed hybridization of the human GR probe to an RNA species of approximately 7.1 kilobases in both regions. No sex or regional differences in GR mRNA stability were observed. The human metallothionein II (hMTII) mRNA, which is regulated by glucocorticoids at the transcriptional level, showed an opposite sex and regional pattern as GR mRNA. However, in gluteal adipose tissue no sex differences were observed in hMTII mRNA levels. The expression of β-actin mRNA, which is not regulated by glucocorticoids, showed no sex or regional variation. By immunocytochemistry, using an anti-GR-monoclonal antibody, cytoplasmic as well as nuclear staining for GR was demonstrated in both sexes and both regions. In conclusion, variations in GR mRNA levels between sexes and body regions may explain the well known sex and tissue differences in effects of glucocorticoids on human adipose tissue.
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