Aldosterone, which plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal gland. When dysregulated, aldosterone is pathogenic and contributes to the development and progression of cardiovascular and renal disease. Although sustained production of aldosterone requires persistent Ca2+ entry through low-voltage activated Ca2+ channels, isolated ZG cells are considered nonexcitable, with recorded membrane voltages that are too hyperpolarized to permit Ca2+ entry. Here, we show that mouse ZG cells within adrenal slices spontaneously generate membrane potential oscillations of low periodicity. This innate electrical excitability of ZG cells provides a platform for the production of a recurrent Ca2+ signal that can be controlled by Ang II and extracellular potassium, the 2 major regulators of aldosterone production. We conclude that native ZG cells are electrical oscillators, and that this behavior provides what we believe to be a new molecular explanation for the control of Ca2+ entry in these steroidogenic cells.
Changlong Hu, Craig G. Rusin, Zhiyong Tan, Nick A. Guagliardo, Paula Q. Barrett