Aims: The nuclear hormone receptor estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα) regulates the activation of mitochondrial genes in various human tissues, but its role in the adrenal gland and its disorders has not been defined. Therefore, we examined ERRα expression in both normal adrenal cortex (NAC) and adrenocortical tumor (ACT) in order to study the possible correlation of ERRα with adrenal development and tumor development. Methods: Human adrenal specimens (non-pathological fetal n=7; non-pathological post-birth n=40; aldosterone producing adenoma (APA) n=11; cortisol producing adenoma (CPA) n=11; adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) n=8) were immunohistochemically examined in this study. NAC (n=13) and ACT (n=28) frozen tissue specimens were also available for studying ERRα mRNA levels. Key findings: In fetal NAC tissues, ERRα labeling index (LI) in fetal zone (FZ) was significantly higher that that in neocortex (NC), and the differences among age groups for overall mean LI was statistically significant when analyzed according to individual cortical layers. ERRα LI was also significantly higher in ACC than in other types of ACT. ERRα mRNA was detected in NAC and all types of ACT. Significance: Results of our present study suggest a possible role of ERRα in adrenal development and ACC.
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