Stress hormones regulate stomach inflammation

2019

Challenge

Chronic inflammation caused by persistent infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria has been linked to the development of stomach cancer. Glucocorticoids, which are hormones that are released by the adrenal glands in response to stress, are known to suppress inflammation generally, but their role in protecting the stomach from inflammation is poorly understood.

Advance

IRP researchers Sivapriya Ramamoorthy Ph.D., and Jonathan T. Busada, Ph.D., working in the lab of principal investigator John A. Cidlowski Ph.D., discovered that glucocorticoids protect the stomach from inflammation. They found that disrupting glucocorticoid production or blocking the downstream effects of glucocorticoids in mice quickly triggered massive inflammation in the stomach and the development of abnormal cells, a precursor to stomach cancer.

Impact

This study shows that glucocorticoids play a critical role in suppressing disease-causing stomach inflammation. The research defines glucocorticoid signaling as essential to maintaining healthy stomach functions and suggests that a deficiency in the glucocorticoid system could lead to stomach cancer.

Publications

Busada JT, Ramamoorthy S, Cain DW, Xu X, Cook DN, and Cidlowski JA. (2019). Endogenous glucocorticoids prevent gastric metaplasia by suppressing spontaneous inflammation. J Clin Invest. Mar1;129(3):1345-1358. doi: 10.1172/JCI123233.