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Hypertension. 2005 Dec;46(6):1227-35. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Mechanisms of mineralocorticoid action.

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  • 1Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Sodium transport in epithelial tissues is regulated by the physiological mineralocorticoid aldosterone. The response to aldosterone is mediated by the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), for which the crystal structure of the ligand-binding domain has recently been established. The classical mode of action for this receptor involves the regulation of gene transcription. Several genes have now been shown to be regulated by aldosterone in epithelial tissues. Of these, the best characterized is serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase, which increases sodium influx through the epithelial sodium channel. Turnover of these channels in the cell membrane is mediated by Nedd4-2, a ubiquitin protein ligase; serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase interacts with and phosphorylates Nedd4-2, thereby rendering it unable to bind the sodium channels. In nonepithelial tissues, particularly the cardiovascular system, aldosterone also has direct effects, activating an inflammatory cascade, leading to cardiac fibrosis. A critical role for the MR in cardiovascular disease has now been demonstrated by the beneficial response to MR blockade in 2 large clinical trials in patients with cardiac failure. It is these nonepithelial actions of MR activation that need to be exploited for the development of antagonists that target the cardiovascular system while avoiding the undesirable side effects of renal MR blockade.

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