The type I and type II 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes

Z. Krozowski, K. X.Z. Li, K. Koyama, R. E. Smith, V. R. Obeyesekere, A. Stein-Oakley, H. Sasano, C. Coulter, T. Cole, K. E. Sheppard

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118 Citations (Scopus)


Local tissue concentrations of glucocorticoids are modulated by the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase which interconverts cortisol and the inactive glucocorticoid cortisone in man, and corticosterone and 11- dehydrocorticosterone in rodents. The type I isoform (11β-HSD1) is a bidirectional enzyme but acts predominantly as a oxidoreductase to form the active glucocorticoids cortisol or corticosterone, while the type II enzyme (11β-HSD2) acts unidirectionally producing inactive 11-keto metabolites. There are no known clinical conditions associated with 11β-HSD1 deficiency, but gene deletion experiments in the mouse indicate that this enzyme is important both for the maintenance of normal serum glucocorticoid levels, and in the activation of key hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes. Other important sites of action include omental fat, the ovary, brain and vasculature. Congenital defects in the 11β-HSD2 enzyme have been shown to account for the syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess (AME), a low renin severe form of hypertension resulting from the overstimulation of the non-selective mineralocorticoid receptor by cortisol in the distal tubule of the kidney. Inactivation of the 11β-HSD2 gene in mice results in a phenotype with similar features to AME. In addition, these mice show high neonatal mortality associated with marked colonic distention, and remarkable hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the distal tubule epithelia. 11β-HSD2 also plays an important role in decreasing the exposure of the fetus to the high levels of maternal glucocorticoids. Recent work suggests a role for 11β-HSD2 in non- mineralocorticoid target tissues where it would modulate glucocorticoid access to the glucocorticoid receptor, in invasive breast cancer and as a mechanism providing ligand for the putative 11-dehydrocorticosterone receptor. While previous homologies between members of the SCAD superfamily have been of the order of 20-30% phylogenetic analysis of a new branch of retinol dehydrogenases indicates identities of > 60% and overlapping substrate specificities. The availability of crystal structures of family members has allowed the mapping of conserved 11β-HSD domains A-D to a cleft in the protein structure (cofactor binding domain), two parallel β-sheets, and an α-helix (active site), respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-6
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Apr

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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