Corticosteroids and the brain

E R de Kloet, J M Reul, W Sutanto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)


Mineralocorticoid (MR) and glucocorticoid receptors (GR) are expressed in the central nervous system. Radioligand binding studies, autoradiography, immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization have shown that MR and GR are found in abundance in neurons of the limbic system (hippocampus), a structure involved in mood, affect and subtle control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In the hippocampus MR binds corticosterone (CORT) as well as aldosterone (ALDO) with high affinity. MR seems mainly occupied by CORT in the face of its 2-3 order higher circulating concentration. GR binds CORT with a 6-10-fold lower affinity. MR and GR gene expression, as well as the native receptor proteins, seem to be controlled in a coordinative manner. When GR is down-regulated by excess homologous steroid, MR appears to be increased. Down regulation of MR reduces GR as well. MR and GR display a differential ontogenetic pattern. Ontogeny, particularly that of GR, can be permanently influenced when animals are exposed during the first post-natal week of maternal deprivation, handling, CORT or ACTH1-24 injections. These MR and GR changes persist into senescence and have been proposed to result in altered CORT responsiveness, stress regulation, behavioural adaptation and brain aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-94
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 1990


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Mineralocorticoids
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid


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