Background: Clinical studies have established aldosterone as a critical physiological and pathophysiological factor in salt and water homeostasis, blood pressure control and in heart failure. Genetic and physiological studies of mice are used to model these processes. A sensitive and specific assay for aldosterone is therefore needed to monitor adrenocortical activity in murine studies of renal function and cardiovascular diseases. Methods: Antibodies against aldosterone were raised in sheep as previously described. HRP-Donkey-anti-sheep IgG enzyme tracer was produced in our laboratory using the Lightning-Link HRP technique. Aldosterone ELISA protocol was validated and optimised to achieve the best sensitivity. The assay was validated by analysing the urine of mice collected under various experimental conditions designed to stimulate or suppress aldosterone in the presence of other potentially interfering steroid hormones. Results: Cross-reactivity with the steroids most likely to interfere was minimal: corticosterone = 0.0028%, cortisol = 0.0006%, DOC = 0.0048% except for 5α-dihydro-aldosterone = 1.65%. Minimum detection limit of this ELISA was 5.2 pmole/L (1.5 pg/mL). The validity of urinary aldosterone ELISA was confirmed by the excellent correlation between results obtained before and after solvent extraction and HPLC separation step (Y = 1.092X + 0.03, R2 = 0.995, n = 54). Accuracy studies, parallelism and imprecision data were determined and all found to be satisfactory. Using this assay, mean urinary aldosterone levels were (i) approximately 60-fold higher in females than males mice; (ii) increased 6-fold by dietary sodium restriction; (iii) increased 10-fold by ACTH infusion and (iv) reduced by >60% in Cyp11b1 null mice. Conclusion: We describe an ELISA for urinary aldosterone that is suitable for repeated non-invasive measurements in mice. Female aldosterone levels are higher than males. Unlike humans, most aldosterone in mouse urine is not conjugated. Increased levels were noted in response to dietary sodium restriction and ACTH treatment. The sensitivity of the assay is sufficient to detect suppressed levels in mouse models of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
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