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

11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression and activity in the human adrenal cortex.

Although oxidation of cortisol or corticosterone by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11beta-HSD) represents the physiological mechanism conferring specificity for aldosterone on the mineralocorticoid receptor in mineralocorticoid target tissues, little attention has been paid until now to the expression and activity of this enzyme in human adrenals. We have shown that human adrenal cortex expresses 11beta-HSD type 2 (11beta-HSD2) gene, and found a marked 11beta-HSD2 activity in microsomal preparations obtained from slices of decapsulated normal human adrenal cortices. Under basal conditions, adrenal slices secreted, in addition to cortisol and corticosterone (B), sizeable amounts of cortisone and 11-dehydrocorticosterone (DH-B), the inactive forms to which the former glucocorticoids are converted by 11beta-HSD. Addition of the 11beta-HSD inhibitor glycyrrhetinic acid elicited a moderate rise in the production of cortisol and B and suppressed that of cortisone and DH-B. ACTH and angiotensin II evoked a marked rise in the secretion of cortisol and B, but unexpectedly depressed the release of cortisone and DH-B. ACTH also lowered the capacity of adrenal slices to convert [3H]cortisol to [3H]cortisone. This last effect of ACTH was concentration-dependently abolished by both aminoglutethimide and cyanoketone, which blocks early steps of steroid synthesis, but not by metyrapone, an inhibitor of 11beta-hydroxylase. Collectively, these findings indicate that the human adrenal cortex possesses an active 11beta-HSD2 engaged in the inactivation of newly formed glucocorticoids. The activity of this enzyme is negatively modulated by the main agonists of glucocorticoid secretion through an indirect mechanism, probably involving the rise in the intra-adrenal concentration of non-11beta-hydroxylated steroid hormones.[1]


  1. 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression and activity in the human adrenal cortex. Mazzocchi, G., Rossi, G.P., Neri, G., Malendowicz, L.K., Albertin, G., Nussdorfer, G.G. FASEB J. (1998) [Pubmed]
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