Adrenaline cells of the rat adrenal cortex and medulla contain renin and prorenin

Jennifer L. Berka, Darren J. Kelly, David B. Robinson, Daine Alcorn, Philip D. Marley, Ross T. Fernley, Sandford L. Skinner

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The distribution and content of renin in Sprague-Dawley (SD) and transgenic (mREN-2)27 rats (TG) were compared to further define the cellular basis and function of the adrenal renin-angiotensin system. Antibody binding (to rat and mouse renin protein and prosequence) was visualised in serial paraffin sections using an avidin-biotin peroxidase technique. Chromaffin and adrenaline cells were identified by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase immunoreactivity, respectively. In SD zona glomerulosa (ZG), renin and its prosequence localised to small steroid cells while in homozygous (receiving lisinopril) and heterozygous (untreated) TG, steroid cells labelled in all cortical zones. In addition, throughout the cortex of each strain, large polyhedral adrenaline chromaffin cells occurring singly or in small groups and occasionally in rays labelled for renin and prosequence. Similar large adrenaline cells immunolabelled for all antisera in medulla while other cells were only TH-positive. Total adrenal renin content was 53 times higher in heterozygous transgenics than SD rats and was mainly (74%) prorenin. In SD, 37% of cortical renin was prorenin but in adrenal medulla only active renin was detected. Thus, from present and previous work both renin and prorenin occur not only in mitochondrial dense bodies of the ZG, but also in secretory granules of adrenaline chromaffin cells in both cortex and medulla implying in situ synthesis and paracrine functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromaffin cells
  • Paracrine function
  • Tissue renin
  • Transgenic Ren-2 rat

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