Emerging Roles of the Mineralocorticoid Receptor in Pathology: Toward New Paradigms in Clinical Pharmacology

Pharmacol Rev. 2016 Jan;68(1):49-75. doi: 10.1124/pr.115.011106.


The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and its ligand aldosterone are the principal modulators of hormone-regulated renal sodium reabsorption. In addition to the kidney, there are several other cells and organs expressing MR, in which its activation mediates pathologic changes, indicating potential therapeutic applications of pharmacological MR antagonism. Steroidal MR antagonists have been used for decades to fight hypertension and more recently heart failure. New therapeutic indications are now arising, and nonsteroidal MR antagonists are currently under development. This review is focused on nonclassic MR targets in cardiac, vascular, renal, metabolic, ocular, and cutaneous diseases. The MR, associated with other risk factors, is involved in organ fibrosis, inflammation, oxidative stress, and aging; for example, in the kidney and heart MR mediates hormonal tissue-specific ion channel regulation. Genetic and epigenetic modifications of MR expression/activity that have been documented in hypertension may also present significant risk factors in other diseases and be susceptible to MR antagonism. Excess mineralocorticoid signaling, mediated by aldosterone or glucocorticoids binding, now appears deleterious in the progression of pathologies that may lead to end-stage organ failure and could therefore benefit from the repositioning of pharmacological MR antagonists.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Aldosterone / pharmacology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Eye Diseases / physiopathology
  • Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology


  • Ion Channels
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid
  • Aldosterone