The Effects of Glucocorticoids on Cultured Human Endothelial Cells


Dr John C. Hoak, Director, Division of Hematology–Oncology, Department of Medicine, University Hospitals, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, U.S.A.


The effects of hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and prednisone on the morphology, replication, DNA synthesis, cell protein content and protein synthesis of cultured, human endothelial cells were evaluated. After culturing the cells with these glucocorticoids for 24–48 h, the cells covered a greater portion of the culture surface area. The mean surface area of the individual endothelial cell treated with glucocorticoids was 1.53 times greater than that of the untreated control endothelial cell. When compared with controls, the endothelial cover provided by the cells treated with glucocorticoids was more extensive and in many instances covered the entire culture surface. The change in morphology was associated with an increase in protein synthesis and protein content of the cells without an increase in DNA synthesis or cellular replication. Dexamethasone was approximately 10-fold more effective than hydrocortisone, while prednisone was the least effective. Aldosterone, DOCA, testosterone, progesterone, oestradiol and oestriol were ineffective. These studies indicate that glucocorticoids can alter the morphology and biochemistry of cultured endothelial cells and may have implications for the effects of steroids in the treatment of thrombocytopenic states and vascular disorders in man.