Corticosteroids mediate fast feedback of the rat hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis via the mineralocorticoid receptor

Helen C Atkinson, Susan A Wood, Emma S Castrique, Yvonne M Kershaw, Crispin C R Wiles, Stafford L Lightman

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

62 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate fast corticosteroid feedback of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis under basal conditions, in particular the role of the mineralocorticoid receptor. Blood samples were collected every 5 min from conscious rats at the diurnal peak, using an automated blood sampling system, and assayed for corticosterone. Feedback inhibition by rapidly increasing concentrations of ligand was achieved with an intravenous bolus of exogenous corticosteroid. This resulted in a significant reduction in plasma corticosterone concentrations within 23 min of the aldosterone bolus and 28 min of methylprednisolone. Evaluation of the pulsatile secretion of corticosterone revealed that the secretory event in progress at the time of administration of exogenous steroid was unaffected, whereas the next secretory event was inhibited by both aldosterone and methylprednisolone. The inhibitory effect of aldosterone was limited in duration (1 secretory event only), whereas that of methylprednisolone persisted for 4-5 h. Intravenous administration of canrenoate (a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist) also had rapid effects on the HPA axis, with an elevation of ACTH within 10 min and corticosterone within 20 min. The inhibitory effect of aldosterone was unaffected by pretreatment with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-38486 but blocked by the canrenoate. These data imply an important role for the mineralocorticoid receptor in fast feedback of basal HPA activity and suggest that mineralocorticoids can dynamically regulate basal corticosterone concentrations during the diurnal peak, a time of day when there is already a high level of occupancy of the cytoplasmic mineralocorticoid receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1011-22
JournalAJP - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone/blood
  • Animals
  • Area Under Curve
  • Canrenoic Acid/pharmacology
  • Corticosterone/blood
  • Feedback/physiology
  • Female
  • Hormone Antagonists/pharmacology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/drug effects
  • Methylprednisolone Hemisuccinate/pharmacology
  • Mifepristone/pharmacology
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System/drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid/metabolism


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