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14.15: Mineralocorticoids (Aldosterone)

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    Source and Control of Secretion

    Like glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids are a mixture of steroid hormones from the adrenal cortex. In humans, aldosterone is essentially the only mineralocorticoid that affects body functions.

    Aldosterone secretion is controlled by four negative feedback mechanisms that operate through the kidney. These mechanisms help maintain homeostasis by regulating blood pressure, osmotic pressure, and blood levels of sodium and potassium.

    In the most influential of these mechanisms, aldosterone secretion increases when the kidney secretes renin in response to low blood pressure, high osmotic pressure, or adverse changes in sodium concentrations. Aldosterone increases sodium and water reabsorption and retention by the kidneys, causing an increase in blood pressure and adjustments to osmotic pressure and sodium concentrations. Conversely, high blood pressure, low osmotic pressure, and the opposite changes in sodium concentration can suppress renin secretion and aldosterone production, allowing more sodium and water to leave in the urine. This lowers blood pressure, raises osmotic pressure, and corrects sodium concentrations.

    Aldosterone secretion is regulated secondarily by the effects of blood levels of sodium and potassium on the adrenal cortex, by a hormone (atrial natriuretic factor) secreted by the heart when blood volume is high, and by a hormone (ACTH) secreted by the anterior pituitary gland during stress. In each case, the adjustment in aldosterone secretion helps maintain proper blood pressure, osmotic pressure, and blood levels of sodium and potassium.


    Aldosterone and other mineralocorticoids cause these adaptive responses by stimulating the kidney tubules to reabsorb sodium and water and secrete potassium and/or acids (hydrogen ions).

    Age Changes

    Though aldosterone secretion decreases with aging, blood levels remain steady under ideal body conditions because the decline in secretion is accompanied by a compensatory decrease in elimination. However, aging is accompanied by a decrease in the ability to raise aldosterone secretion and blood levels when needed, leading to a decrease in aldosterone reserve capacity.

    These changes are not due to age changes in the adrenal cortex, which largely retains the ability to increase aldosterone levels when needed. The age-related decrease in aldosterone reserve capacity is due primarily to the declining ability of the kidneys to secrete renin when needed. Aging is also accompanied by a declining ability to increase aldosterone secretion during stress. There is an age-related decrease in kidney sensitivity to aldosterone.

    Because of the interrelationships between aldosterone secretion and kidney functioning, there is age-related decrease in the ability to maintain normal conditions when faced with adverse conditions such as low blood pressure, dehydration, and disease. Body conditions that are likely to become abnormal include blood pressure; osmotic pressure; concentrations of sodium and potassium; and acid/base balance

    This page titled 14.15: Mineralocorticoids (Aldosterone) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Augustine G. DiGiovanna via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.

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