The effects of incremental cortisol infusion or fetal adrenalectomy on plasma corticosteroid-binding capacity (CBC) were examined in sheep fetuses during late gestation (term ~ 150 days). Cortisol, infused from day 120 at 1.5 mg/day for the first 3 days, 2.5 mg/day for the next 5 days, and 3.5 mg/day for the final 2 days, stimulated a significant rise in plasma CBC and immunoreactive corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG). There was a significant positive correlation between individual values for total plasma cortisol concentrations and CBC values. In contrast, fetal adrenalectomy at day 115 prevented the rise in plasma CBC found in intact fetuses at term. These experiments show that exogenous cortisol, given in a manner that mimics the prepartum rise in fetal plasma cortisol, stimulates CBG biosynthesis, whereas abolition of the cortisol rise prevents the increase in CBG. The study provides strong support for the proposal that the prepartum increase in CBG biosynthesis in fetal sheep occurs in response to the progressive rise in adrenal cortisol output by the fetus towards term.
- Corticosteroid binding globulin