Apparent mineralocorticoid excess: report of six new cases and extensive personal experience

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Nov;17(11):3176-84. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2006060570. Epub 2006 Oct 11.


In mineralocorticoid target tissues such as the cortical collecting duct in the kidney, the enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11betaHSD2) is responsible for the peripheral inactivation of cortisol to cortisone, thereby protecting the mineralocorticoid receptor from inappropriate activation by cortisol. Mutations in the HSD11B2 gene cause the syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess, an autosomal recessive form of inherited hypertension in which cortisol acts as a potent mineralocorticoid. Herein are described six new families with mutations in the HSD11B2 gene causing hypokalemic hypertension, with low plasma aldosterone and low renin levels in affected individuals, indicating mineralocorticoid hypertension. Profiling of urinary steroid metabolites showed decreased cortisol inactivation, with urinary tetrahydrocortisol and tetrahydrocortisone ratio (THF + 5alphaTHF)/THE ranging 2.4 to 40 and nearly absent urinary free cortisone in all but one case. Genetic analysis of the HSD11B2 gene from these patients with apparent mineralocorticoid excess revealed distinct homozygous point mutations in four families, a compound heterozygous mutation in one family, and a large 23-bp exonic insert with frameshift and disruption of the amino acid sequence in another family. Expression studies of mutants that were expressed in HEK-293 cells showed marked reduction or abolition of 11betaHSD2 enzymatic activity. These cases are reviewed along with previous ones from the authors' extensive personal experience to highlight the importance of 11betaHSD2 in the understanding of a new biologic principle in hormone action, demonstrating that local metabolism of the glucocorticoid hormones into inactive derivatives by the enzyme 11betaHSD2 is one of the mechanisms that intervene to allow specific aldosterone regulatory effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2 / genetics*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mineralocorticoid Excess Syndrome, Apparent / diagnosis*
  • Mineralocorticoid Excess Syndrome, Apparent / genetics*
  • Mutation


  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 2
  • HSD11B2 protein, human