General overview of mineralocorticoid hormone action

Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Dec;84(3):273-326. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(99)00038-8.


The adrenal cortex elaborates two major groups of steroids that have been arbitrarily classified as glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, despite the fact that carbohydrate metabolism is intimately linked to mineral balance in mammals. In fact, glucocorticoids assured both of these functions in all living cells, animal and photosynthetic, prior to the appearance of aldosterone in teleosts at the dawn of terrestrial colonization. The evolutionary drive for a hormone specifically designed for hydromineral regulation led to zonation for the conversion of 18-hydroxycorticosterone into aldosterone through the catalytic action of a synthase in the secluded compartment of the adrenal zona glomerulosa. Corticoid hormones exert their physiological action by binding to receptors that belong to a transcription factor superfamily, which also includes some of the proteins regulating steroid synthesis. Steroids stimulate sodium absorption by the activation and/or de novo synthesis of the ion-gated, amiloride-sensitive sodium channel in the apical membrane and that of the Na+/K+-ATPase in the basolateral membrane. Receptors, channels, and pumps apparently are linked to the cytoskeleton and are further regulated variously by methylation, phosphorylation, ubiquination, and glycosylation, suggesting a complex system of control at multiple checkpoints. Mutations in genes for many of these different proteins have been described and are known to cause clinical disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amiloride / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Mineralocorticoids / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mineralocorticoids / physiology*
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / analysis
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / physiology
  • Sodium Channels / physiology
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / chemistry
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Mineralocorticoids
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid
  • Sodium Channels
  • Amiloride
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase