Adrenal Steroid Laboratory

Lab head: Professor Mark S Cooper
Location: ANZAC Research Institute, Concord Repatriation General Hospital

We are examining the role of adrenal hormones in common diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis, burn injury and critical illness. Our research combines basic science approaches with clinical investigation and translation of our findings in both directions.

Lab members: 1 Postdoctoral Fellow, 1 Visiting Fellow. Close links and combined research projects with Bone Research Group and Burns Research Group.
Funding: Arthritis Research UK, MRC (UK), Rebecca Cooper Medical Foundation
Research approach equipment: We examine steroid metabolising enzyme expression and activity using RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, specific enzyme assays and transgenic mice.

Tiganescu A, Tahrani AA, Morgan SA, Otranto M, Desmoulière A, Abrahams L,
Hassan-Smith Z, Walker EA, Rabbitt EH, Cooper MS, Amrein K, Lavery GG, Stewart
PM. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase blockade prevents age-induced skin structure and
function defects. J Clin Invest. 2013 123:3051-60. 
Ahasan MA, Hardy R, Jones C, Kaur K, Morgan S, Hassan-Smith Z, Hewison M, Lavery G, Rabbitt E, Clark A, Buckley C, Raza K, Stewart PM, Cooper MS. Inflammatory regulation of glucocorticoid metabolism in mesenchymal stromal cells. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2012 64:2404-13.
Hardy RS, Rabbitt EH, Filer A, Emery P, Hewison M, Stewart PM, Gittoes N, Buckley CD, Raza K, Cooper MS. Local and systemic glucocorticoid metabolism in inflammatory arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2008 67:1204-10.

Role of glucocorticoids in outcome from burn injury

Primary supervisor: Mark Cooper

Burn injury is common and serious and associated with long term morbidity from scarring. We have shown that skin can activate glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory steroids) locally through expression of the enzyme 11b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11b-HSD1) which converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. We also demonstrated that the activity of this enzyme increases in skin with age and its activity causes changes associated with ageing. The enzyme activity also increases in skin during inflammation.

This project will examine changes in cortisol metabolism within skin during burn injury and determine whether cortisol metabolism is related to success of wound healing. 11b-HSD1 expression has never been examined in the skin of burn patients. We will examine 11b-HSD1 activity and mRNA expression in biopsies of skin from patients with burns. Enzyme activity will be measured in burn skin and also from adjacent normal tissue. Immunohistochemistry will be used to identify the cell types expressing 11b-HSD1 during burn healing. Skin fibroblasts will be used in ‘wound healing’ assays to examine the impact inhibitors of 11b-HSD1 or glucocorticoid treatment. This project will be based jointly with the Adrenal Steroid Laboratory and the Burns Research Unit at the ANZAC Research Institute.

Discipline: Pathology
Co-supervisors: Yiwei Wang, Peter Maitz
Keywords: Endocrinology, Glucocorticoids, wound healing