Corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) transports cortisol and other steroids. High-affinity CBG (haCBG) undergoes proteolysis of the reactive center loop (RCL) by neutrophil elastase (NE) altering conformation to low-affinity CBG (laCBG). Elevated temperature reduces CBG:cortisol binding affinity. Surface plasmon resonance was used to determine binding profiles of 19 steroids to haCBG and laCBG at 25, 37, and 39°C mimicking pyrexia and pH 7.4 and 7.0 mimicking acidosis, pathophysiological conditions relevant to sepsis. An expected 4–8-fold reduction in affinity for cortisol, cortisone, corticosterone, 11-deoxycortisol, progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, and prednisolone occurred with NE-mediated haCBG-to-laCBG conversion. CBG:cortisol binding affinity was further reduced 3.5-fold at 39°C relative to 37°C, binding affinity was also reduced by acidosis for both haCBG and laCBG. Using a conformational antibody generated against the RCL, we confirmed RCL antibody binding was eliminated by NE cleavage, but preserved in pyrexia and acidosis. Molecular modeling studies performed at 40°C confirmed a critical role for Trp371, positioned within the steroid-binding pocket, in ligand binding. These studies demonstrated CBG binding affinity to range of steroids is ligand specific and is reduced with NE-mediated haCBG-to-laCBG transition. Reduced CBG:cortisol binding occurs with increased temperature and in acidosis. Increased flexibility of the Trp371 side chain is proposed in the thermo-coupling mechanism of cortisol release. The synergy of NE cleavage, pyrexia, and acidosis on CBG:cortisol binding may serve to enhance cortisol delivery to the interstitial space in inflammation.
- corticosteroid-binding globulin
- ligand binding affinity