Aldosterone is a steroid hormone (mineralocorticoid family) produced by the outer-section (zona glomerulosa) of the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland, and acts on the distal tubules and collecting ducts of the kidney to cause the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, increased water retention, and increased blood pressure. The overall effect of aldosterone is to increase reabsorption of ions and water in the kidney.
It was first isolated by Simpson and Tait in 1953.
Aldosterone and corticosterone share the first part of their biosynthetic pathway. The last part is either mediated by the aldosterone synthase (for aldosterone) or by the 11β-hydroxylase (for corticosterone). These enzymes are nearly identical (they share 11β-hydroxylation and 18-hydroxylation functions). But aldosterone synthase is also able to perform a 18-oxidation. Moreover, aldosterone synthase is found within the zona glomerulosa at the outer edge of the adrenal cortex; 11β-hydroxylase is found in the zona fasciculata and reticularis.
The secretion of aldosterone has a diurnal rhythm.
Aldosterone is responsible for the reabsorption of about 2% of filtered sodium in the kidneys, which is nearly equal to the entire sodium content in human blood under normal GFR (glomerular filtration rate).
Aldosterone, most probably acting through mineralocorticoid receptors, may positively influence neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus.
Some of the transcribed genes are crucial for transepithelial sodium transport, including the three subunits of the epithelial sodium channel, the Na+/K+ pumps and their regulatory proteins serum and glucocorticoid-induced kinase, and channel-inducing factor respectively.
Angiotensin is involved in regulating aldosterone and is the core regulation. Angiotensin II acts synergistically with potassium, and the potassium feedback is virtually inoperative when no angiotensin II is present. A small portion of the regulation resulting from angiotensin II must take place indirectly from decreased blood flow through the liver due to constriction of capillaries. When the blood flow decreases so does the destruction of aldosterone by liver enzymes.
The aldosterone production is also affected to one extent or another by nervous control which integrates the inverse of carotid artery pressure, pain, posture, and probably emotion (anxiety, fear, and hostility) (including surgical stress). Anxiety increases aldosterone, which must have evolved because of the time delay involved in migration of aldosterone into the cell nucleus. Thus, there is an advantage to an animal anticipating a future need from interaction with a predator since too high a serum content of potassium has very adverse effects on nervous transmission.
Pressure in the carotid artery decreases aldosterone
The amount of aldosterone secreted is a direct function of the serum potassium as probably determined by sensors in the carotid artery.
Aldosterone is a function of the inverse of the sodium intake as sensed via osmotic pressure. The slope of the response of aldosterone to serum potassium is almost independent of sodium intake. Aldosterone is much increased at low sodium intakes, but the rate of increase of plasma aldosterone as potassium rises in the serum is not much lower at high sodium intakes than it is at low. Thus, the potassium is strongly regulated at all sodium intakes by aldosterone when the supply of potassium is adequate, which it usually is in primitive diets.
ACTH, a pituitary peptide, also has some stimulating effect on aldosterone probably by stimulating DOC formation which is a precursor of aldosterone. Aldosterone is increased by blood loss, pregnancy, and possibly by other circumstances such as physical exertion, endotoxin shock, and burns.
Feedback by aldosterone concentration itself is of a non morphological character (that is other than changes in the cells' number or structure) and is poor so the electrolyte feedbacks predominate short term.