Activation of mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is evoked by aldosterone, and it induces hypertension and cardiovascular disease when it's concomitant with excessive salt loading. We have proposed the notion of “MR-associated hypertension” in which add-on therapy of MR blockers is effective even though serum aldosterone level is within normal range. To elucidate its underlying molecular mechanism, we focused on the effect of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation on MR activity. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) administration increased MR transcriptional activity through EGFR/ERK pathway and increased protein level by counteracting MR ubiquitylation in vitro. EGF administration in vivo also increased MR protein level and target gene expression in kidney, which were decreased by EGFR inhibitor. In addition, the administration of EGFR inhibitor lowered systolic blood pressure and MR activity in DOCA/salt-treated mice. In conclusion, EGFR/ERK pathway activation is considered as one of the underlying mechanisms of aberrant MR activation and EGFR/ERK pathway blockade could be an alternative approach for the prevention of MR-related cardiovascular events.
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