Abstract

Mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) are transcriptional regulators that mediate the diverse physiological and pathophysiological actions of corticosteroid hormones across many tissues. In the kidney aldosterone control of sodium/water resorption via DNA-binding actions of the MR is established. MRs also regulate tissues not involved in electrolyte homeostasis such as the heart, adipose tissue, brain, and inflammatory cells where the MRs can respond to both aldosterone and cortisol. The pathology of inappropriate MR activation in non-epithelial tissues are well-described, and steroidal antagonists of the MR have been clinically beneficial in the management of heart failure and blood pressure for decades. However, the role of cortisol-dependent MR activation in the physiological setting is less well defined. Like other steroid hormone receptors, the MR also regulates non-DNA-binding pathways including MAPK pathways and G protein coupled receptors to provide diversity to MR signaling. Whether nonDNA binding pathways are more relevant for MR activation in non-epithelial, versus epithelial, tissues remain unclear. This review will focus on molecular regulation of ligand-dependent MR activation and the physiology and pathophysiology of MR actions in the heart with a focus on the cardiomyocyte and provide a discussion of relevant genomic and non-genomic MR pathways and potential new transcriptional partners for the MR and their relevance for health and disease. Understanding MR actions in the heart will provide new insights into cell-selective mechanisms that underpin the therapeutic benefits of MRAs, and are a critical step towards developing next-generation tissue selective MR modulators with improved safety profiles.

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