Development of Human Adrenocortical Adenoma (HAA1) Cell Line from Zona Reticularis

Hans K. Ghayee, Yiling Xu, Heather Hatch, Richard Brockway, Asha S. Multani, Tongjun Gu, Wendy B. Bollag, Adina Turcu, William E. Rainey, Juilee Rege, Kazutaka Nanba, Vikash J. Bhagwandin, Fiemu Nwariaku, Victor Stastny, Adi F. Gazdar, Jerry W. Shay, Richard J. Auchus, Sergei G. Tevosian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The human adrenal cortex is composed of distinct zones that are the main source of steroid hormone production. The mechanism of adrenocortical cell differentiation into several functionally organized populations with distinctive identities remains poorly understood. Human adrenal disease has been difficult to study, in part due to the absence of cultured cell lines that faithfully represent adrenal cell precursors in the early stages of transformation. Here, Human Adrenocortical Adenoma (HAA1) cell line derived from a patient’s macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia and was treated with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) and gene expression was examined. We describe a patient-derived HAA1 cell line derived from the zona reticularis, the innermost zone of the adrenal cortex. The HAA1 cell line is unique in its ability to exit a latent state and respond with steroidogenic gene expression upon treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors. The gene expression pattern of differentiated HAA1 cells partially recreates the roster of genes in the adrenal layer that they have been derived from. Gene ontology analysis of whole genome RNA-seq corroborated increased expression of steroidogenic genes upon HDAC inhibition. Surprisingly, HDACi treatment induced broad activation of the Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) alpha pathway. This novel cell line we developed will hopefully be instrumental in understanding the molecular and biochemical mechanisms controlling adrenocortical differentiation and steroidogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number584
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • adrenocortical carcinoma
  • cell differentiation
  • gene expression
  • histone deacetylase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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