Corticosteroid-binding-globulin (CBG)-deficient mice show high pY216-GSK3 beta and phosphorylated-Tau levels in the hippocampus
Corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) is the specific carrier of circulating glucocorticoids, but evidence suggests that it also plays an active role in modulating tissue glucocorticoid activity. CBG polymorphisms affecting its expression or affinity for glucocorticoids are associated with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, depression, hypotension, and obesity with an altered hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. CBG has been localized in hippocampus of humans and rodents, a brain area where glucocorticoids have an important regulatory role. However, the specific CBG function in the hippocampus is yet to be established. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the absence of CBG on hippocampal glucocorticoid levels and determine whether pathways regulated by glucocorticoids would be altered. We used cbg(-/-) mice, which display low total-corticosterone and high free-corticosterone blood levels at the nadir of corticosterone secretion (morning) and at rest to evaluate the hippocampus for total- and free-corticosterone levels; 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression and activity; the expression of key proteins involved in glucocorticoid activity and insulin signaling; microtubule-associated protein tau phosphorylation, and neuronal and synaptic function markers. Our results revealed that at the nadir of corticosterone secretion in the resting state the cbg(-/-) mouse hippocampus exhibited slightly elevated levels of free-corticosterone, diminished FK506 binding protein 5 expression, increased corticosterone downstream effectors and altered MAPK and PI3K pathway with increased pY216-GSK3 beta and phosphorylated tau. Taken together, these results indicate that CBG deficiency triggers metabolic imbalance which could lead to damage and long-term neurological pathologies.