In peripheral sodium-transporting tissues, the serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase (SGK) isoform-1 is an early corticosteroid target gene in the activation of epithelial sodium channels (ENaCs). Sodium transport across the human ocular nonpigmented and pigmented ciliary epithelial bilayer (NPE-PE) is essential for aqueous humor production, but the expression of SGK1 and ENaC subunits remain to be defined. SGK1 and ENaC subunits were evaluated by in situ hybridization and RT-PCR analysis on human NPE-PE sections and an NPE cell line (ODM-2). Northern blot analyses were conducted on ODM-2 cells incubated with dexamethasone (DEX) or aldosterone (ALDO) and RU38486 (a glucocorticoid receptor [GR] antagonist) or RU26752 (a mineralocorticoid receptor [MR] antagonist) or both inhibitors. The affinity of the GRs and MRs for DEX and ALDO was assessed by radioligand-binding assays. Expression of SGK1 and ENaC subunits was confirmed in NPE-PE tissues and ODM-2 cells. Dose-dependent induction of SGK1 mRNA in the ODM-2 cells was demonstrated after incubation with DEX or ALDO. While response to DEX was not inhibited by RU38486 or RU26752, there was a moderate reduction in induction by ALDO in the presence of RU26752 that was completely abolished in the presence of both inhibitors. Specific binding of (3)[H]DEX and (3)[H]ALDO was established, revealing greater expression of GRs than MRs. The expression of ENaCs within the NPE-PE and corticosteroid regulation of SGK1 through the GR and MR, indicate that this mechanism may be a feature of sodium transport in the human ocular ciliary epithelium.
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