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What does aldosterone do?

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Quick Answer

Aldosterone stimulates kidneys to retain elevated levels of water and sodium, according to Wikipedia. In addition, the hormone prompts kidneys to increase the excretion of potassium. Aldosterone plays an important role in the regulation of both blood pressure and electrolytes in the body, as explained by WebMD.

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Full Answer

Aldosterone belongs to a family of hormones that influence blood pressure and physiological electrolyte balance known as mineralocorticoids, as noted by Shelat S.G., Flanagan-Cato L.M. and Fluharty S.J. in the Journal of Endocrinology. The hormone acts on both the distal convoluted tubule and the network of tubes and ducts connecting nephrons to the ureter that are known as collecting tubes, according to Wikipedia. By stimulating heightened water and sodium retention and increasing potassium excretion, aldosterone contributes to elevated blood pressure.

The hormone is an important part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which is the mechanism responsible for regulating physiological blood pressure, according to Bayer Pharma. The mechanism is activated by stimulants that range from stress to low blood pressure. On activation, the kidney releases renin, an enzyme that breaks down the protein angiotensin into angiotensin I. Angiotensin I is then turned into angiotensin II by the angiotensin-converting enzyme. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to become narrower, stimulates the pituitary gland to release the water-retaining hormone vasopressin and also prompts the adrenal glands to release aldosterone, noradrenaline and adrenaline. The net effect of the action of these hormones is elevated physiological blood pressure. Aldosterone and allied mineralocorticoids also stimulate thirst and an appetite for salt, according to Shelat, Flanagan-Cato and Fluharty.

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