Under the guise of a satellite meeting of the 12th International Congress of Nephrology, Felix Frey (Bern) and John Funder (Melbourne) recently put together a comprehensive meeting in the secluded resort of Appenberg, Switzerland, devoted to the topic of 11 β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD). Every international group working in this area was represented, with presentations and lively discussion from both clinicians and basic scientists in the field.
With the recent characterization and cloning of 5α-reductases, 5′deiodinase, and 3β/17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases, emphasis on steroid and thyroid hormone action is moving from abnormalities of secretion to studying tissue metabolism. This is particularly relevant for 11β-HSD and mineralocorticoid/glucocorticoid hormone action. 11β-HSD is responsible for the interconversion of 'active' C11-hydroxylated C21-corticosteroids to their 'inactive' C11-keto derivatives. Although 11β-HSD activity had been described in liver, placenta and kidney in the 1950s, it was not until Drs Ulick and New ascribed a