The renin knockout rat: control of adrenal aldosterone and corticosterone synthesis in vitro and adrenal gene expression

Hershel Raff, Aurora Health Care
Ashley Gehrand, Aurora Health Care
Eric D. Bruder, Aurora Health Care
Matthew J Hoffman
William C Engeland
Carol Moreno

Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center


The classic renin-angiotensin system is partly responsible for controlling aldosterone secretion from the adrenal cortex via the peptide angiotensin II (AngII). In addition, there is a local adrenocortical renin-angiotensin system that may be involved in the control of aldosterone synthesis in the zona glomerulosa (ZG). In order to characterize the long-term control of adrenal steroidogenesis, we utilized adrenal glands from renin knockout (KO) rats and compared steroidogenesis in vitro and steroidogenic enzyme expression to wild-type (WT) controls (Dahl S rat). Adrenal capsules (ZG; aldosterone production) and subcapsules (zona reticularis/fasciculata [ZFR]; corticosterone production) were separately dispersed and studied in vitro. Plasma renin activity and angiotensin II concentrations were extremely low in the KO rats. Basal and cAMP-stimulated aldosterone production was significantly reduced in renin KO ZG cells whereas corticosterone production was not different between WT and KO ZFR cells. As expected, adrenal renin mRNA expression was lower in the renin KO compared to the WT rat. Real-time PCR and immunohistochemical analysis showed a significant decrease in P450aldo (Cyp11b2) mRNA and protein expression in the ZG from the renin KO rat. The reduction in aldosterone synthesis in the ZG of the renin KO adrenal seems to be accounted for by a specific decrease in P450aldo, and may be due to the absence of chronic stimulation of the ZG by circulating AngII or to a reduction in locally-released AngII within the adrenal gland.