Human renal mesangial cells produce aldosterone in response to low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

Tetsuo Nishikawa, Sachiko Suematsu, Jun Saito, Akiko Soyama, Hiroko Ito, Tomoshige Kino, George Chrousos

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Systemic aldosterone plays an important role in the development of the microvascular disease and glomerular damage of the kidney in patients with diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia. Here, we investigated the possibility of local production of aldosterone in the kidney, using human primary glomerular mesangial cells. These cells produced both pregnenolone and aldosterone measured by specific radioimmunoassay and/or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) methods. The production of both steroids was significantly stimulated by treatment with LDL, while angiotensin II had a synergistic effect. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and (Bu)2cAMP, on the other hand, failed to stimulate aldosterone production by these cells, suggesting that the local production of this steroid by mesangial cells is regulated differently from that of adrenal zona glomerulosa cells. Mesangial cells expressed the mRNA of the LDL receptor and steroidogenic enzymes, such as P450scc, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), 21-hydroxylase and CYP11B2. Mesangial cells also expressed mRNA of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), and LDL stimulated its abundance by three-fold, while spironolactone, a completive antagonist of aldosterone, completely abolished this LDL effect. Since MR is a known mineralocorticoid-responsive gene as well as an intracellular receptor molecule for this steroid, these results suggest that locally produced aldosterone is biologically active, stimulating the transcription rates of the mineralocorticoid-responsive genes by activating the MR in mesangial cells. These pieces of evidence indicate that human mesangial cells are an aldosterone-producing tissue in which LDL plays a major regulatory role. Therefore, human renal mesangial endocrine system may contribute to local aldosterone concentrations and effects in the renal glomerulus independently of the systemic renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and may participate in the development and progression of glomerular damage in several pathologic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • 21-Hydroxylase
  • 3β-HSD
  • Aldosterone
  • CYP11B2
  • LDL receptor
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Mesangial cells
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor
  • P450scc
  • Pregnenolone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology

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