Impact of adrenal steroids on regulation of adipose tissue

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Corticosteroids are secreted by the adrenal glands and control the functions of adipose tissue via the activation of mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR). In turn, adipocytes release a large variety of adipokines into the bloodstream, regulating the function of several organs and tissues, including the adrenal glands, hereby controlling corticosteroid production. In adipose tissue, the activation of the MR by glucocorticoids (GC) and aldosterone affects important processes such as adipocyte differentiation, oxidative stress, autophagic flux, adipokine expression as well as local production of GC through upregulation of the enzyme 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11ß-HSD1). Notably, the proinflammatory responses induced by the MR are counteracted by activation of the GR, whose activity inhibits the expression of inflammatory adipokines. Both GR and MR are deeply involved in adipogenesis and adipose expansion; hence pharmacological blockade of these two receptors has proven effective against adipose tissue dysfunction in experimental models of obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS), suggesting a potential use for MR and GR antagonists in these clinical settings. Importantly, obesity and Cushing's syndrome (CS) share metabolic similarities and are characterized by high levels of circulating corticosteroids, which in turn are able to deeply affect adipose tissue. In addition, pharmacological approaches aimed at reducing aldosterone and GC levels, by means of the inhibition of CYP11B2 (aldosterone synthase) or 11ß-HSD1, represent alternative strategies to counter the detrimental effects of excessive levels of corticosteroids, which are often observed in obesity and, more general, in MetS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1425-1447
Number of pages23
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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