We investigated the effects on urinary steroid and electrolyte excretion and renal gene expression of chronic infusions of ACTH in the mouse. ACTH caused a sustained increase in corticosteroid excretion; aldosterone excretion was only transiently elevated. There was an increase in the excretion of deoxycorticosterone, a weak mineralocorticoid, to levels of physiological significance. Nevertheless, we observed neither antinatriuresis nor kaliuresis in ACTH-treated mice and plasma renin activity was not suppressed. We identified no changes in expression of mineralocorticoid target genes. Water turnover was increased in chronic ACTH-treated mice, as was hematocrit and hypertonicity: volume contraction is consistent with high levels of glucocorticoid. ACTH-treated mice exhibited other signs of glucocorticoid excess, such as enhanced weight gain and involution of the thymus. We identified novel ACTH-induced changes in i) genes involved in vitamin D (Cyp27b1, Cyp24a1, Gc) and calcium metabolism (Sgk, Calb1, Trpv5) associated with calciuria and phosphaturia; ii) genes that would be predicted to desensitize the kidney to glucocorticoid action (Nr3c1, Hsd11b1, Fkbp5) and iii) genes encoding transporters of enzymes systems associated with xenobiotic metabolism and oxidative stress. Although there is evidence that ACTH-induced hypertension is a function of physiological cross talk between glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, the present study suggest that the major changes in electrolyte and fluid homeostasis and renal function are attributable to glucocorticoids. The calcium and organic anion metabolism pathways that are affected by ACTH may explain some of the known adverse effects associated with glucocorticoid excess
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