It is unclear whether in vitro corticosteroid receptor binding assays have used inappropriately high concentrations of synthetic corticosteroid competitors, thereby potentially introducing error into estimates of type I (mineralocorticoid) and type II (glucocorticoid) receptor binding. To determine more accurately the concentration of blockers necessary to discriminate between these two sites, we have derived Ki values for the competition of dexamethasone, RU 28362 and RU 26752 for [3H]corticosterone and [3H]dexamethasone binding in rat hippocampus. Non-specific binding of both radioligands was defined with unlabeled dexamethasone to exclude transcortin. The type II agonist RU 28362 competed for only a portion of [3H]corticosterone binding, exhibiting a Ki of 0.5 nM for this binding. In contrast, RU 28362 fully competed all binding of a saturating concentration of [3H]dexamethasone, even though [3H]dexamethasone also recognized type I receptors, defined as specific [3H]corticosterone binding in the presence of 80 nM RU 28362. RU 28362 competition for [3H]dexamethasone binding exhibited characteristics of a 2-site interaction, with Kis of 0.3 and 194 nM. The type I receptor antagonist RU 26752 competed less effectively for [3H]corticosterone and [3H]dexamethasone binding, but nonetheless competed fully within a 1000-fold concentration range. Even at a level less than 125 x its Ki for type I binding, RU 26752 still inhibited virtually all type II receptor binding by [3H]corticosterone. We conclude that type I and II receptors in rat brain are best distinguished using [3H]corticosterone as the labelling ligand, with cold RU 28362 and dexamethasone to eliminate binding to type II and transcortin sites, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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