Mineralocorticoid receptors: emerging complexity and functional diversity

Steroids. 2009 Feb;74(2):163-71. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2008.10.010. Epub 2008 Oct 30.


Mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) activation in renal epithelial cells in response to the binding of aldosterone has long been implicated in the maintenance of body salt and fluid homeostasis and blood pressure control. 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) is believed to confer specificity on aldosterone to activate MR by inactivating 11beta-hydroxyglucocorticoids (corticosterone, cortisol) that are 100-1000 times more abundant in plasma than aldosterone and that can also bind and activate MR. Increasing evidence, however, challenges such a simple view of MR activation as well as its interaction with glucocorticoids and 11beta-HSDs. In non-epithelial tissues including brain, cardiomyocytes and macrophages, 11beta-hydroxyglucocorticoids seem to act as MR antagonists, and redox changes and signaling events may play pivotal roles for receptor activation in these tissues. This review addresses the emerging new view of the complex mechanisms underlying MR specificity of action, with a diversity of physiological roles and functions in different mineralocorticoid-responsive tissues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrolytes / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Electrolytes
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid