This paper reports a quick, relatively simple and reproducible technique for obtaining populations of zona fasciculata and zona glomerulosa cells up to 80-90% pure, which can be maintained in vitro for study of adrenocortical cell function. Isolated guinea pig adrenocortical cells were separated on a 1-28% bovine serum albumin/Ca++, Mg++-free buffer gradient (wt/vol at 4% increments) using equilibrium density centrifugation (570 g, 30 min). Over 60% of the 8 x 10(5) viable cells/adrenal obtained in the total isolate were recovered after separation. 80% of the zona glomerulosa cells were found in the lower three bands of the gradient. 78% of the zona fasciculata cells were found in the top three bands. Of the cells in the first two bands, 78-91% were zona fasciculata cells, whereas of the cells in the bottom two bands 92-95% were zona glomerulosa cells. The cells retained the morphological characteristics of cells in situ and could be maintained in vitro for periods up to 11 d. They produced a wide variety of steroids, cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, 11-beta-hydroxyandrostenedione, deoxycortisol, deoxycorticosterone, cortisone, 18-hydroxycorticosterone, and a product tentatively identified as dehydroepiandrosterone, and they responded to ACTH in a dose-responsive manner with enhanced levels of steroid output. Zona glomerulosa-enriched populations differed from zona fasciculata-enriched populations in their abundant production of aldosterone and in the pattern of steroid production. None of the cultures responded to angiotensin II (100 pg/ml) with increased steroid production.

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