Transcription factor GATA-6 has been demonstrated to be expressed in the human fetal and adult adrenal cortex and has been postulated to play an important role in adrenal steroid biosynthesis. However, the status for GATA-6 expression has not been examined in detail especially in relation to adrenal development and aging. Therefore, in this study, we analyzed GATA-6 expression in 11 human fetal adrenals and 19 adrenal glands after birth using immunohistochemistry. In the fetal adrenals, the status of GATA-6 immunoreactivity in the definitive zone was significantly and directly correlated with ages of development (P<0.05) but in the fetal zone was significantly and inversely correlated with ages of development (P<0.05). After birth, GATA-6 was more abundant in the zona fasciculata compared to other zones (P<0.05) but was not related to aging of the subject. These results suggest that GATA-6 expression is involved in the regulation of corticosteroid production in both the human fetal and adult adrenals, and the changes of intra-adrenal GATA-6 expression in the human fetal adrenal plays important roles in developmental changes of both the definitive and fetal zones.
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