Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

MeRGeR: Physiological significance of the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptor signaling in the innate immune system

Does the mineralocorticoid receptor play a role in the effects of cortisol and synthetic glucocorticoids on the immune response?

2021 - 2022
Erin Faught
European Horizon-2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship – (H2020-MSCA-GA891367-MeRGeR)


Glucocorticoids, such as the stress hormone cortisol, act through two receptors, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Until recently, the research on cortisol action had mainly focussed on the function of the GR and less on that of the MR. The main goal of the EU-funded MeRGeR project is to uncover the role of the MR in mediating the effects of cortisol on the immune response. The project also aims to provide a better understanding of how MR and GR mediate the actions of immune-modulating glucocorticoid drugs such as prednisolone. Using zebrafish larvae and human cell cultures as model systems, researchers will focus on the effects of MR activation on the inflammatory response and study how the MR and GR functionally interact to modulate gene transcription.

The two objectives of the proposed project. For objective 1, I hypothesize that MR and GR activation has opposite effects on the inflammatory response, and this will be tested in zebrafish. For objective 2, I hypothesize that MR and GR form heterodimers that have gene-specific activity, and this will be tested in cultured macrophages.
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