Context: The G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) mediates an aldosterone secretagogue effect of 17β-estradiol in human HAC15 adrenocortical cells after estrogen receptor β blockade. Because GPER mediates mineralocorticoid receptor-independent aldosterone effects in other cell types, we hypothesized that aldosterone could modulate its own synthesis via GPER activation.
Methods: HAC15 cells were exposed to aldosterone in the presence or absence of canrenone, a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, and/or of the selective GPER antagonist G36. Aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) mRNA and protein levels changes were the study end points. Similar experiments were repeated in strips obtained ex vivo from aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) and in GPER-silenced HAC15 cells.
Results: Aldosterone markedly increased CYP11B2 mRNA and protein expression (vs untreated samples, P < 0.001) in both models by acting via GPER, because these effects were abolished by G36 (P < 0.01) and not by canrenone. GPER-silencing (P < 0.01) abolished the aldosterone-induced increase of CYP11B2, thus proving that aldosterone acts via GPER to augment the step-limiting mitochondrial enzyme (CYP11B2) of its synthesis. Angiotensin II potentiated the GPER-mediated effect of aldosterone on CYP11B2. Coimmunoprecipitation studies provided evidence for GPER-angiotensin type-1 receptor heterodimerization.
Conclusion: We propose that this autocrine-paracrine mechanism could enhance aldosterone biosynthesis under conditions of immediate physiological need in which the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is stimulated as, for example, hypovolemia. Moreover, as APA overexpresses GPER this mechanism could contribute to the aldosterone excess that occurs in primary aldosteronism in a seemingly autonomous fashion from angiotensin II.
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