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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of synthetic mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids: receptor transactivation and prereceptor metabolism by 11beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenases.

Glucocorticoid (GC) and mineralocorticoid (MC) action in target tissues is determined by prereceptor metabolism by 11beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenases (HSDs) and receptor transactivation. We characterized these parameters for steroids often used in clinical practice. HSD activity was examined in human liver (HSD1) and kidney microsomes (HSD2) and in CHO cells stably transfected with both enzymes. GC and MC transcriptional activity was tested by luciferase assay in CV-1 cells transfected with human GC or MC receptor expression vectors. The 11-hydroxy-group is necessary for GC and MC receptor transactivation. As HSD2 oxidizes 11-hydroxysteroids to inactive 11-dehydrosteroids, GC and MC activity in HSD2-expressing tissues (kidney, colon) is regulated by this enzyme. As 9alpha-fluorination (such as in 9alpha-fluorocortisol) decreases oxidation by HSD2 and increases both GC and MC receptor transactivation, this modification leads to optimal, but non-selective transactivation of both receptors. Increased GC receptor and decreased MC receptor transactivation leading to more selective GC activity is reached using the following substituents: 16beta-methyl (in betamethasone), 16alpha-methyl (in dexamethasone) and triangle up 1-dehydro-configuration (in prednisolone). Whereas the modifications in position 16 decrease oxidation by HSD2, the triangle up 1-dehydro-configuration increases HSD2-activity leading to an enhanced inactivation of prednisolone compared to all other steroids. 9alpha-fluorocortisol, the most frequently used substance for MC-substitution, seems to be the best choice of available steroids for this purpose. Whereas GC selectivity can be improved by hydrophobic substituents in position 16 and the triangle up 1-dehydro-configuration, maximal GC activity needs additional fluorination in position 9alpha (such as in dexamethasone). For GC therapy directed to HSD2-expressing organs, widely used prednisolone does not seem to be the optimal recommendation.[1]


  1. Pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of synthetic mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids: receptor transactivation and prereceptor metabolism by 11beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenases. Diederich, S., Scholz, T., Eigendorff, E., Bumke-Vogt, C.h., Quinkler, M., Exner, P., Pfeiffer, A.F., Oelkers, W., Bähr, V. Horm. Metab. Res. (2004) [Pubmed]
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