Collagen synthesis and the activities of prolyl hydroxylase, lysyl hydroxylase, collagen galactosyltransferase and collagen glucosyltransferase were studied in isolated chick-embryo tendon cells after the administration of cortisol acetate to the chick embryos. When the steroid was injected 1 day before isolation of the tendon cells, collagen synthesis was decreased, even though the enzyme activities were not changed. When cortisol acetate was given as repeated injections over a period of 4 days, both collagen synthesis and the enzyme activities decreased. The hydroxylase activities decreased even more than the two collagen glycosyltransferase activities, both in isolated cells and in whole chick embryos. The amount of prolyl hydroxylase protein diminished to the same extent as the enzyme activity, indicating that cortisol acetate inhibits enzyme synthesis. The inhibitory effect of cortisol acetate on collagen synthesis and on the enzyme activities was partially reversible in 3 days. Total protein synthesis was completely restored within this time. Only massive doses of cortisol acetate inhibited collagen synthesis in vitro. Additional experiments indicated that cortisol acetate did not decrease the rate of the enzyme reactions when added directly to the enzyme incubation mixtures. The results suggest that cortisol acetate decreases collagen synthesis both by its direct effect on collagen polypeptide-chain synthesis and by decreasing the activities of enzymes involved in post-translational modifications.

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