Angiotensin infusion evokes marked increases in aldosterone secretion in primary aldosteronism and little change in secondary aldosteronism. The low plasma renin activity of primary aldosteronism and the elevated plasma renin activity of secondary aldosteronism are thought to account for this differential response. The effect of angiotensin on aldosterone and 18-hydroxycorticosterone secretion was studied during adrenal vein catheterization in seven patients with primary aldosteronism (whose plasma renin activity had been elevated following spironolactone therapy), one hypertensive patient with normal plasma renin activity and normal aldosterone secretion, two patients with secondary aldosteronism who had elevated plasma renin activity, and one anephric patient whose plasma renin activity was 0. Adrenal venous aldosterone and 18-hydroxycorticosterone were measured before and after a ten min sub-pressor angiotensin infusion.
The cells of the aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) respond to small increases in plasma angiotensin with large increases in secretion of aldosterone and 18-hydroxycorticosterone. The dose of angiotensin capable of evoking this response from the aldosterone-producing adenoma produces little or no change in the secretion of the steroids from nontumorous glands. The augmentation of aldosterone secretion, induced by angiotensin, in primary aldosteronism is due solely to increased secretion by the adenoma and not by the contralateral zona glomerulosa. The increased sensitivity of the aldosterone-producing adenoma is characteristic of the tumor. This response is independent of fluctuations in endogenous plasma renin activity. This sensitivity is not blunted by high plasma renin activity, nor is it a function of tumor mass for the effect is observed in aldosterone-producing adenomas regardless of size. ACTH injection after angiotensin infusion resulted in a marked increase in aldosterone concentration in the effluent from the nontumorous adrenal, but was not capable of producing further increases in aldosterone concentration in the effluent from the APA. In view of this exquisite sensitivity to infused angiotensin, it may be that the small variations in endogenous plasma renin activity that have been observed in primary aldosteronism may be capable of evoking large changes in aldosterone secretion in patients with aldosterone-producing adenomas.
Confirmatory testing of suspected primary aldosteronism (PA) requires an extensive medication switch that can be difficult for patients with severe complicated hypertension and/or refractory hypokalemia. For this reason, we investigated the effect of chronic antihypertensive medication on confirmatory testing results. To allow the results to be interpreted, the reproducibility of confirmatory testing was also evaluated.
Design and methods
The study enrolled 114 individuals with suspected PA who underwent two confirmatory tests. The patients were divided into two groups. In Group A, both tests were performed on the guidelines-recommended therapy, i.e. not interfering with the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system. In Group B, the first test was performed on chronic therapy with the exclusion of thiazides, loop diuretics, and aldosterone antagonists; and the second test was performed on guidelines-recommended therapy. Saline infusion, preceded by oral sodium loading, was used to suppress aldosterone secretion.
Agreement in the interpretation of the two confirmatory tests was observed in 84 and 66% of patients in Groups A and B respectively. For all 20 individuals in Group A who ever had end-test serum aldosterone levels ≥240 pmol/l, aldosterone was concordantly nonsuppressible during the other test. Similarly, for all 16 individuals in Group B who had end-test serum aldosterone levels ≥240 pmol/l on modified chronic therapy, aldosterone remained nonsuppressible with guidelines-recommended therapy.
Confirmatory testing performed while the patient is on chronic therapy without diuretics and aldosterone antagonists can confirm the diagnosis of PA, provided serum aldosterone remains markedly elevated at the end of saline infusion.
Availability and wider application of the plasma aldosterone/renin ratio (ARR) as a screening test for primary aldosteronism (PA) has led to the recognition that PA is the most common potentially curable and specifically treatable form of hypertension, possibly accounting for as many as 5–13% of patients. Aldosterone excess also has adverse cardiovascular consequences that go above and beyond hypertension development. These findings support the concept that PA plays an important role in cardiovascular disease states and should be systematically sought and specifically treated, and have led to the development of a US Endocrine Society clinical guideline for the detection, diagnosis and management of this condition. Reliable detection requires that interfering factors (including medications known to alter the ratio) are controlled before ARR measurement (or their effects taken into account), and reliable methods such as fludrocortisone suppression testing are used to confirm PA. Because computed tomography frequently misses aldosterone-producing adenomas yet demonstrates non-functioning nodules, adrenal venous sampling is the only dependable way to differentiate unilateral (surgically correctable) from bilateral (usually treated with aldosterone antagonist medications) forms of PA. For the glucocorticoid-remediable form of PA (familial hyperaldosteronism type I), genetic testing for the causative ‘hybrid’ 11beta-hydroxylase/aldosterone synthase gene has greatly facilitated detection. Laboratory assessment (including suppression testing post-operatively, and renin measurement during treatment with aldosterone antagonist medications) can assist in assessing therapeutic responses and in guiding ongoing management. Development of new, highly reliable high-throughput mass spectrometric methods for measuring aldosterone and renin should further enhance detection and reliability of diagnostic workup for PA.
Active renin mass concentration (ARC) is independent of the endogenous level of angiotensinogen, and less variable and more reproducible than plasma renin activity. Reference values for the aldosterone-to-renin ratio (ARR) using ARC are still undefined. The objective of the present study was to determine the threshold of ARR using ARC measurement to screen for primary aldosteronism.
A total of 211 subjects were included in the study, comprising 78 healthy normotensive controls, 95 patients with essential hypertension, and 38 patients with confirmed primary aldosteronism (20 with surgery-confirmed aldosterone-producing adenoma and 18 with idiopathic adrenal hyperplasia). Blood samples were drawn from ambulatory patients and volunteers in the mid-morning without specific dietary restriction for measuring plasma aldosterone concentration, ARC, and serum potassium.
Most normotensive controls and essential hypertension patients had ARR results below 100 pmol/ng, a value which corresponded to 3.3 times the median of these two groups.
Patients with ARR values above this level should be considered for further investigation (confirmatory tests) or for repeat testing should ARR values be borderline. This study indicates that ARC can be used reliably in determining ARR for primary aldosteronism screening.
primary aldosteronism; active renin mass concentration; aldosterone-to-renin ratio
To evaluate the prevalence of primary aldosteronism (PA) in newly diagnosed and untreated hypertensive patients in primary care using the aldosterone/renin ratio (ARR), and to assess clinical and biochemical characteristics in patients with high and normal ARR.
Patient survey study.
Setting and subjects
A total of 200 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed and untreated hypertension from six primary health care centres in Sweden were included.
Main outcome measures
ARR was calculated from serum aldosterone and plasma renin concentrations. The cut-off level for ARR was 65. Patients with an increased ARR were considered for confirmatory testing with the fludrocortisone suppression test (FST), followed by adrenal computed tomographic radiology (CT) and adrenal venous sampling (AVS).
Of 200 patients, 36 patients had an ARR > 65. Of these 36 patients, 11 patients had an incomplete aldosterone inhibition during FST. Three patients were diagnosed with an aldosterone producing adenoma (APA) and eight with bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BHA). Except for moderately lower level of P-K in patients with an ARR > 65 and in patients with PA, there were no biochemical or clinical differences found among hypertensive patients with PA compared with patients without PA.
Eleven of 200 evaluated patients (5.5%) were considered to have PA. The diagnosis of PA should therefore be considered in newly diagnosed hypertensive subjects and screening for the diagnosis is warranted.
Aldosterone; aldosterone to renin ratio; family practice; hypertension; primary aldosteronism; renin
Surgically correctable forms of primary aldosteronism are characterized by unilateral aldosterone hypersecretion and renin suppression, associated with varying degrees of hypertension and hypokalemia. Unilateral aldosterone hypersecretion is caused by an aldosterone-producing adenoma (also known as Conn's adenoma and aldosteronoma), primary unilateral adrenal hyperplasia and rare cases of aldosterone-producing adrenocortical carcinoma. In these forms, unilateral adrenalectomy can cure aldosterone excess and hypokalemia, but not necessarily hypertension. The prevalence of primary aldosteronism in the general population is not known. Its prevalence in referred hypertensive populations is estimated to be between 6 and 13%, of which 1.5 to 5% have an aldosterone-producing adenoma or primary unilateral adrenal hyperplasia. Taking into account referral biases, the prevalence of surgically correctable primary aldosteronism is probably less than 1.5% in the hypertensive population and less than 0.3% in the general adult population. Surgically correctable primary aldosteronism is sought in patients with hypokalemic, severe or resistant forms of hypertension. Recent recommendations suggest screening for primary aldosteronism using the aldosterone to renin ratio. Patients with a raised ratio then undergo confirmatory suppression tests. The differential diagnosis of hypokalemic hypertension with low renin includes mineralocorticoid excess, with the mineralocorticoid being cortisol or 11-deoxycorticosterone, apparent mineralocorticoid excess, pseudo-hypermineralocorticoidism in Liddle syndrome or exposure to glycyrrhizic acid. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, adrenal computed tomography is performed for all patients. If surgery is considered, taking into consideration the clinical context and the desire of the patient, adrenal vein sampling is performed to detect whether or not aldosterone hypersecretion is unilateral. Laparoscopic surgery for unilateral aldosterone hypersecretion is associated with a morbidity of about 8%, with most complications being minor. It generally results in the normalization of aldosterone secretion and kalemia, and in a large decrease in blood pressure, but normotension without treatment is only achieved in half of all cases. Normotension following adrenalectomy is more frequent in young patients with recent hypertension than in patients with long-standing hypertension or a family history of hypertension.
A dopaminergic mechanism has been proposed to suppress aldosterone secretion. To assess the possibility that a defect in the dopaminergic mechanism might enhance aldosterone secretion in hypertensive patients, we determined basal and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-stimulated plasma aldosterone (PA), cortisol, renin activity, and potassium concentrations before and during dopamine receptor stimulation with dopamine infusion and bromocriptine administration and dopamine receptor blockade with metoclopramide. The patient study groups included: (a) seven patients with low-renin hypertension and abnormal aldosterone suppression with sodium loading and presumed bilateral zona glomerulosa hyperplasia (ZGHP); (b) two patients with aldosterone-producing adenoma; (c) five patients with low-renin hypertension but normal aldosterone suppression with sodium loading; and (d) six patients with normal-renin hypertension. Dopamine infusion in patients with ZGHP caused PA to fall (P less than 0.01) into the normal range, but did not block the enhanced (P less than 0.05) aldosterone response to ACTH that is characteristic of these patients. Dopamine infusion in patients with low-renin hypertension but normal aldosterone suppression also suppressed PA (P less than 0.01), whereas it had no effect upon PA in patients with normal-renin hypertension or aldosterone-producing adenoma and did not blunt the PA response to ACTH in either group. Bromocriptine administration had no effect upon basal or ACTH-stimulated PA. Dopamine infusion in patients with ZGHP also enhanced (P less than 0.05) diuresis and natriuresis in comparison with normal-renin patients. Metoclopramide administration increased (P less than 0.01) PA in all patients. Thus, a dopaminergic mechanism appears to be important in the regulation of aldosterone secretion in patients with ZGHP and in other low-renin hypertensives with normal aldosterone suppression with sodium loading. In contrast, this latter group does not exhibit an enhanced aldosterone response to ACTH. Both of these groups differ from normal-renin hypertensives, who have no PA suppression with dopamine infusion.
Low renin hypertension is an important and often underdiagnosed cause of hypertension. It may be associated with high aldosterone levels as in Conn's syndrome or low aldosterone levels as in Liddle syndrome, and syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess, glucocorticoid remediable hypertension etc. Some forms of essential hypertension are also associated with low renin levels. Hypokalemia may be an important finding in low renin hypertension. The aldosterone to renin ratio helps in correct diagnosis. The treatment varies with etiology hence an accurate diagnosis is essential. Aldosterone antagonists play an important role in medical management of some varieties of low renin hypertension.
Aldosterone antagonists; hypertension; hypokalemia; low renin hypertension; monogenic hypertension; renin aldosterone ration
The existence of unilateral adrenal hyperplasia (AH) has been considered a rare cause of primary hyperaldosteronism (PA).
In a prospective study we screened for PA in a non-selected (NSP) and selected hypertensive population (SP), to define the cause of PA. We included 353 consecutive patients with hypertension; age 20 to 88 years, 165 women and 188 men, from a university-based Hypertension and Nephrology Outpatient clinics (123 SP) and two primary care centres, (230 NSP) from the same catch-up area. Serum aldosterone and plasma renin activity (PRA) were measured and the ARR calculated. Verifying diagnostic procedure was performed in patients with both elevated aldosterone and ARR. Patients diagnosed with PA were invited for adrenal venous sampling (AVS) and offered laparoscopic adrenalectomy when AVS found the disease to be unilateral.
After screening, 46 patients, 13% of the whole population (22.8% SP and 7.8% NSP) had aldosterone and ARR above the locally defined cut-off limits (0.43 nmol/l and 1.28 respectively). After diagnostic verification, 20 patients (6%) had PA, (14.5% SP and 1.4% NSP). Imaging diagnostic procedures with CT-scans and scintigraphy were inconclusive. AVS, performed in 15 patients verified bilateral disease in 4 and unilateral in 10 patients. One AVS failed. After laparoscopic adrenalectomy, 4 patients were found to have adenoma and 5 unilateral AH. One patient denied operation.
The prevalence of PA was in agreement with previous studies. The study finds unilateral PA common and unilateral AH as half of those cases. As may be suspected PA is found in much higher frequency in specialised hypertensive units compared to primary care centers. AVS was mandatory in diagnosis of unilateral PA.
Endocrine hypertension; Hyperaldosteronism; Aldosterone; Renin; Hypertension; Resistant hypertension; Adrenal hyperplasia
Resistant hypertension is a major opportunity for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Despite widespread dissemination of consensus guidelines, most patients are uncontrolled with approaches that assume that all patients are the same.
Causes of resistant hypertension include 1) non-compliance 2) consumption of substances that aggravate hypertension (such as salt, alcohol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, licorice, decongestants) and 3) secondary hypertension.
Selecting the appropriate therapy for a patient depends on finding the cause of the hypertension. Once rare causes have been eliminated (such as pheochromocytoma, licorice, adult coarctation of the aorta), the cause will usually be found by intelligent interpretation (in the light of medications then being taken) of plasma renin and aldosterone.
If stimulated renin is low and the aldosterone is high, the problem is primary aldosteronism, and the best treatment is usually aldosterone antagonists (spironolactone or eplerenone; high-dose amiloride for men where eplerenone is not available). If the renin is high, with secondary hyperaldosteronism, the best treatment is angiotensin receptor blockers or aliskiren. If the renin and aldosterone are both low the problem is over-activity of renal sodium channels and the treatment is amiloride. This approach is particularly important in patients of African origin, who are more likely to have low-renin hypertension.
Resistant hypertension; renin; amiloride; primary hyperaldosteronism; renal sodium channel; African-American; Stroke belt.
The patient was a 54-year-old woman who developed a right adrenal tumour, Cushingoid features, elevated levels of cortisol that were not suppressed by 1 nor 8 mg of dexamethasone, and suppression of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) during treatment for severe hypertension. Computed tomography (CT) revealed a right adrenal tumour and an atrophic left adrenal gland. In addition, elevated plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) and suppressed plasma renin activity (PRA) with an aldosterone-to-renin ratio of 128 (ng per 100 ml per ng ml–1 h−1) suggested aldosterone excess. Urinary excretion of aldosterone was relatively high, and the captopril and rapid ACTH tests resulted in no response of PRA and exaggerated increase in PAC, respectively. ACTH-loaded adrenal venous sampling showed bilateral excess of aldosterone with right predominance of cortisol. Right laparoscopic partial adrenalectomy (ADX) and immunohistochemical analysis showed both a cortisol-producing adenoma and an aldosterone-producing microadenoma (microAPA) within the attached adrenal, which had not been detected by CT preoperatively. After the right partial ADX, her blood pressure, aldosterone level and suppressed PRA remained unchanged. Subsequently, laparoscopic total left ADX was performed. Two microAPAs with paradoxical hyperplasia were revealed within the apparently atrophic left adrenal gland. Soon after the second surgery, her blood pressure normalized without requiring any anti-hypertensive medication.
aldosterone-producing microadenoma; cortisol-producing adrenal adenoma; Cushing syndrome; adrenal venous sampling; endocrine hypertension
Sunlight-induced vitamin D, synthesis in the skin is the major source of vitamin D, but data on the relationship of sun-related behaviour with vitamin D and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels are relatively sparse. We evaluated whether habitual sun exposure is associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and PTH levels and whether there exist seasonal variations. We examined 111 hypertensive patients in Austria (latitude 47° N). Frequent sunbathing at home and outdoor sports were associated with higher 25(OH)D levels (P < 0.05 for both). Red or blond scalp hair as a child, memory of sunburns, preferring sunbathing, frequent stays on the beach or in open-air pools, and solarium use were associated with lower PTH levels (P < 0.05 for all). Multiple linear regression analyses including age, sex, and body mass index showed that sun exposure score was significantly associated with 25(OH)D (beta coefficient = 0.27; P = 0.004) and by trend with PTH (beta coefficient = −0.16; P = 0.09). These associations were more prominent in summer in which 25(OH)D levels were significantly higher compared to winter. Translation of these findings into recommendations for the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency remains a challenge for the future.
Primary hyperaldosteronism (PA) is a serious and potentially debilitating disease. Detailed guidelines have been written to guide endocrinologists in establishing the diagnosis of PA as well as in subtype classification of PA. The objective of this case report is to present a case where subtype classification of PA was challenging and repeated imaging of the adrenal glands helped establish the diagnosis in a patient with initial normal adrenal glands on CT and MRI images.
We report a case of a 29-year-old woman with an established diagnosis of PA, but unclear subtype, who presented to us for further management. She initially presented for medical evaluation of uncontrolled hypertension and spontaneous hypokalemia 4 years prior. In the investigation of secondary causes of hypertension, plasma aldosterone-to-plasma renin activity ratio was elevated on two separate occasions, and primary hyperaldosteronism was confirmed by saline infusion test. Also during this time, she had adrenal venous sampling done 3 times at multiple institutions yielding confusing results. Initially, imaging by CT and MRI showed normal adrenal glands. To help establish the subtype of PA, we reimaged this patient’s adrenal glands one year later revealing a 2 cm left adrenal adenoma. Laparoscopic left adrenalectomy improved her hypertension and was curative of her hypokalemia.
This case presents an unusual case where reimaging of the adrenal glands led to the discovery of a single adenoma, initially not observed on imaging studies.
Hyperaldosteronism; Hypertension; Adrenal venous sampling
Hypertension is a common disorder that affects a large heterogeneous patient population. Subgroups can be identified on the basis of their responses to hormonal and biologic stimuli. These subgroups include low-renin hypertensives and nonmodulators. Aldosterone, the principal human mineralocorticoid, is increasingly recognized as playing a significant role in cardiovascular morbidity, and its role in hypertension has recently been reevaluated with studies that suggest that increased aldosterone biosynthesis (as defined by an elevated aldosterone to renin ratio) is a key phenotype in up to 15% of individuals with hypertension. It was reported previously that a polymorphism of the gene (C to T conversion at position −344) encoding aldosterone synthase is associated with hypertension, particularly in individuals with a high ratio. However, the most consistent association with this variant is a relative impairment of adrenal 11β-hydroxylation. This review explores the evidence for this and provides a hypothesis linking impaired 11β-hydroxylation and hypertension with a raised aldosterone to renin ratio. It is also speculated that there is substantial overlap between this group of patients and previously identified low-renin hypertensives and nonmodulators. Thus, these groups may form a neurohormonal spectrum reflecting different stages of hypertension or indeed form sequential steps in the natural history of hypertension in genetically susceptible individuals.
Studies were undertaken to determine if the dissociation of aldosterone and plasma renin activity in low-renin essential hypertension is due to altered adrenal responsiveness to angiotensin II. The responsiveness of the adrenal glands to angiotensin II was determined by infusing graded doses of angiotensin II into normal subjects and into patients with essential hypertension and measuring changes in levels of plasma aldosterone in response to the infusion. To minimize the influence of endogenous angiotensin II and ACTH, supplemental sodium and dexamethasone were given before the infusions. Levels of plasma aldosterone and plasma renin activity were determined in normal subjects and in the same patients after the combined stimuli of furosemide and upright posture, a maneuver used to increase the level of endogenous angiotensin II. To determine if the changes in levels of plasma aldosterone during infusion of angiotensin II were due to alteration of the metabolic clearance of aldosterone, the metabolic clearance of aldosterone was measured before and during the infusion of angiotensin II.
After sodium loading, dexamethasone treatment, and supine posture, levels of plasma aldosterone of normal subjects and patients with essential hypertension were suppressed equally. In response to the infusion of angiotensin II, the levels of plasma aldosterone of patients with low-renin essential hypertension were significantly higher than those of normal subjects or of patients with normal-renin essential hypertension. After furosemide and upright posture, levels of plasma aldosterone of patients with low-renin essential hypertension were significantly higher than those of patients with normal-renin essential hypertension, despite a blunted response in plasma renin activity of the patients with low-renin essential hypertension. Decreases in metabolic clearance of aldosterone during infusion of angiotensin II were similar in patients with normal-renin essential hypertension and in patients with low-renin essential hypertension and accounted for only a small fraction of the marked increase in levels of plasma aldosterone of patients with low-renin essential hypertension. It is concluded that patients with low-renin essential hypertension have increased adrenal sensitivity to angiotensin II. This increased sensitivity may explain the dissociation of aldosterone and plasma renin activity in low-renin essential hypertension.
High blood pressure is an important determinant of cardiovascular disease risk. Treated hypertensives do not attain a risk level equivalent to normotensives. This may be a consequence of suboptimal blood pressure control to which indiscriminate use of antihypertensive drugs may contribute. Indeed the recent ALLHATstudy suggests that thiazides should be given first to virtually all hypertensives. Whether this is correct or whether different antihypertensive therapies should be targeted towards different patients is a major unresolved issue, which we address in this study.
The measurement of the ratio of aldosterone: renin is used to identify hypertensive subjects who may respond well to treatment with the aldosterone antagonist spironolactone. It is not known if subjects with a high ratio have aldosteronism or aldosterone-sensitive hypertension is debated but it is important to know whether spironolactone is superior to other diuretics such as bendroflumethiazide in this setting.
The study is a double-blind, randomised, crossover, controlled trial that will randomise 120 hypertensive subjects to 12 weeks treatment with spironolactone 50 mg once daily and 12 weeks treatment with bendroflumethiazide 2.5 mg once daily. The 2 treatment periods are separated by a 2-week washout period. Randomisation is stratified by aldosterone: renin ratio to include equal numbers of subjects with high and low aldosterone: renin ratios.
Primary Objective – To test the hypothesis that the aldosterone: renin ratio predicts the antihypertensive response to spironolactone, specifically that the effect of spironolactone 50 mg is greater than that of bendroflumethiazide 2.5 mg in hypertensive subjects with high aldosterone: renin ratios.
Secondary Objectives – To determine whether bendroflumethiazide induces adverse metabolic abnormalities, especially in subjects with high aldosterone: renin ratios and if baseline renin measurement predicts the antihypertensive response to spironolactone and/or bendrofluazide
The numerous deleterious effects of hypertension dictate the need for a systematic approach for its treatment. In spite of various therapies, resistant hypertension is widely prevalent. Among various factors, primary aldosteronism is an important cause of resistant hypertension and is now more commonly recognised. More significantly, hypertensives with primary aldosteronism are also exposed to various other deleterious effects of excess aldosterone. Hence treating hypertension with specific aldosterone antagonists may be a better approach in this group of patients. It may lead on to better blood pressures with fewer medications.
Hypertension affects about 10 – 25% of the population and is an important risk factor for cardiovascular and renal disease. The renin-angiotensin system is frequently implicated in the pathophysiology of hypertension, be it primary or secondary. The prevalence of primary aldosteronism increases with the severity of hypertension, from 2% in patients with grade 1 hypertension to 20% among resistant hypertensives. Mineralcorticoid hypertension includes a spectrum of disorders ranging from renin-producing pathologies (renin-secreting tumors, malignant hypertension, coarctation of aorta), aldosterone-producing pathologies (primary aldosteronism – Conns syndrome, familial hyperaldosteronism 1, 2, and 3), non-aldosterone mineralocorticoid producing pathologies (apparent mineralocorticoid excess syndrome, Liddle syndrome, deoxycorticosterone-secreting tumors, ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH) syndrome, congenitalvadrenal hyperplasia), and drugs with mineraocorticoid activity (locorice, carbenoxole therapy) to glucocorticoid receptor resistance syndromes. Clinical presentation includes hypertension with varying severity, hypokalemia, and alkalosis. Ratio of plasma aldosterone concentraion to plasma renin activity remains the best screening tool. Bilateral adrenal venous sampling is the best diagnostic test coupled with a CT scan. Treatment is either surgical (adrenelectomy) for unilateral adrenal disease versus medical therapy for idiopathic, ambiguous, or bilateral disease. Medical therapy focuses on blood pressure control and correction of hypokalemia using a combination of anti-hypertensives (calcium channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers) and potassium-raising therapies (mineralcorticoid receptor antagonist or potassium sparing diuretics). Direct aldosterone synthetase antagonists represent a promising future therapy.
Aldosterone; aldosteronism; angiotensin; endocrine hypertension; hypertension; inherited hypertension; mineralocorticoid hypertension; renin; secondary hypertension
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) participates in the injury sustained by the remnant kidney. Our studies assessed the importance of aldosterone in that model and the response of aldosterone to drugs interfering with the RAAS. Initially, four groups of rats were studied: SHAM-operated rats, untreated remnant rats (REM), REM rats treated with losartan and enalapril (REM AIIA), and REM AIIA rats infused with exogenous aldosterone (REM AIIA + ALDO). The last group was maintained with aldosterone levels comparable to those in untreated REM rats by constant infusion of exogenous aldosterone. REM rats had larger adrenal glands and a > 10-fold elevation in plasma aldosterone compared to SHAM. REM AIIA rats demonstrated significant suppression of the hyperaldosteronism as well as marked attenuation of proteinuria, hypertension, and glomerulosclerosis compared to REM. REM AIIA + ALDO rats manifested greater proteinuria, hypertension, and glomerulosclerosis than REM AIIA rats. Indeed, by 4 wk of observation all of these features of the experimental disease were similar in magnitude in REM AIIA + ALDO and untreated REM. In separate REM rats spironolactone administration did not reduce glomerular sclerosis but did transiently reduce proteinuria, lowered arterial pressure, and lessened cardiac hypertrophy. In summary, aldosterone contributes to hypertension and renal injury in the remnant kidney model.
The mechanisms of the aldosterone-inhibiting and antihypertensive actions of heparin and certain other sulfated mucopolysaccharides were investigated in 13 hypertensive patients. N-formyl chitosan polysulfuric acid (RO 1-8307) was used rather than heparin because of its low anticoagulant activity. RO 1-8307 lowered aldosterone secretion in one patient with proved and one with probable primary aldosteronism; this indicates that the mucopolysaccharide does not inhibit aldosterone secretion via the renin-angiotensin mechanism. In six hypertensive patients RO 1-8307 caused a fall in the secretion of aldosterone and its probable immediate precursor, 18-hydroxycorticosterone; therefore it does not act at the last step in the synthesis of aldosterone. RO 1-8307 produced a prolonged clinical and biochemical remission in the two patients considered to have primary aldosteronism but did not influence blood pressure in five of seven patients in whom excessive aldosterone was probably not a major factor in the hypertension. It is concluded that the antihypertensive action of RO 1-8307, and perhaps of heparin as well, is largely due to suppression of aldosterone secretion.
The role of augmented aldosterone production in pregnancy is poorly understood. Whereas some consider aldosterone secretion in pregnancy excessive, others suggest that this is a compensatory phenomenon. According to yet another view, mechanisms other than the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system control sodium homeostasis in pregnancy.
Metabolic balance studies were performed on 14 3rd trimester women. Mineralocorticoid activity was experimentally increased by administering desoxycorticosterone acetate, 9α-fluorocortisol acetate, or ACTH for 4-12 days. Administration of mineralocorticoid or ACTH consistently caused sodium retention. During this mineralocorticoid-induced volume expansion, aldosterone excretion decreased markedly. Natriuresis, which followed discontinuance of the drug, continued while aldosterone excretion, although greatly diminished compared to control values, was greater than that found in normal, nonpregnant individuals. This saline diuresis did not subside until aldosterone excretion returned to its previously high control values. These observations support the concept of the physiological role of increased aldosterone production in pregnancy.
Results further revealed a marked dissociation between antinatriuretic and kaliuretic effects of corticoids. Potassium balance was virtually unaltered during continued mineralocorticoid or ACTH administration, despite initially high or abruptly increased sodium intakes. Finally, mineralocorticoid escape was induced by continued desoxycorticosterone acetate therapy in two male volunteers. Kaliuresis occurred which was subsequently abolished when progresterone was administered. Sodium excretion, however, was virtually unaltered. These data, mimicking results observed in gravidas, suggest that progesterone is an important determinant of potassium homeostasis in pregnant women.
The effect of the converting enzyme inhibitor captopril on arterial pressure, the components of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, and body sodium and potassium content was studied in eight hypertensive patients with renal artery stenosis and, in conjunction with diuretics, in seven patients with hypertension unresponsive to previous treatment. Two hours after the first dose, captopril caused significant falls in systolic and diastolic pressures, plasma angiotensin II, and aldosterone, with converse increases in angiotensin I and both active and total renin; the initial fall in diastolic pressure was significantly related to the drop in plasma angiotensin II. The biochemical changes were sustained during prolonged treatment, even when diuretics were added. One untreated patient with renal artery occlusion had severe secondary aldosterone excess, was sodium and potassium depleted, and severely hyponatraemic and hypokalaemic; captopril restored blood pressure, plasma electrolyte concentrations, and exchangeable sodium and total body potassium to normal. In one man with renal artery stenosis and overall renal impairment captopril led to sodium retention, and blood pressure did not fall until a diuretic was added. In the remaining patients with renal artery stenosis, pretreatment renin, angio tensin II, and aldosterone concentrations were either normal or only modestly raised, and plasma electrolyte concentrations and body content of sodium and potassium were normal. Captopril alone controlled arterial pressure in all, three cases showing a gradual fall of pressure over the first six weeks of treatment; no significant changes in exchangeable sodium or total body potassium were seen. The group of patients with previously intractable hypertension were all controlled with a combination of captopril and diuretic.
Background: Primary aldosteronism is the leading cause of secondary hypertension, the management of this disease requiring an interdisciplinary approach.
Objectives: Evaluation of evolutionary features of patients with secondary hypertension and primary aldosteronism.
Methodology: We have followed 26 patients diagnosed with secondary hypertension and primary aldosteronism, who were admitted consecutively to "C. I. Parhon" Endocrinology Institute between 2004-2009. Of the 26 patients, 17 had adenoma producer of aldosterone (APA), 8 had bilateral adrenal hyperplasia idiopathic (HIA) and one patient had adrenal carcinoma (with hypersecretion of aldosterone). The mean age of the cohort was of 49.3 years (44.9 years for adenomas and 52.6 years for bilateral hyperplasia). The evaluation of the patients included clinical examination, electrocardiogram, Holter BP, echocardiography and determination of plasma aldosterone and renin.
Results: The evolution of the patients with primary aldosteronism was different depending on the anatomoclinic type. In patients with idiopathic bilateral hyperplasia, medical treatment has improved control of hypertension and cardiac and cerebrovascular complications rate was moderate. In patients with unilateral adenoma producing aldosterone, blood pressure had higher values and more frequent complications, but surgical cure of adenomas significantly changed the prognosis of patients. In both cases, the presence of hypokalemia was an additional element of severity.
Conclusions: Regardless of the primary aldosteronism, hypertension was directly involved in cardiac and cerebrovascular complications. Individualization of treatment according to the anatomoclinic type determined a significant improvement of the patients’ prognosis.
secondary hypertension; primary aldosteronism; hypokalemia; surgery
Rare mutations of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) result in the monogenic hypertension form of Liddle's syndrome. We decided to screen for common variants in the ENaC βand γ subunits in patients with essential hypertension and to relate their occurrence to the activity of circulating renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
Initially, DNA samples from 27 patients with low renin/low aldosterone hypertension were examined. The DNA variants were subsequently screened for in 347 patients with treatment-resistant hypertension, 175 male subjects with documented long-lasting normotension and 301 healthy
Plasma renin and aldosterone levels were measured under baseline conditions and during postural and captopril challenge tests.
Two commonly occurring βENaC variants (G589S and a novel intronic i12-17CT substitution) and one novel γENaC variant (V546I) were detected. One of these variants occurred in a heterozygous form in 32 patients, a prevalence (9.2%) significantly higher than that in normotensive males (2.9%, p = 0.007) and blood donors (3.0%, p = 0.001). βENaC i12-17CT was significantly more prevalent in the hypertension group than in the two control groups combined (4.6% vs. 1.1%, p = 0.001). When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, neither of the two ENaC amino acid-changing variants showed a significant difference in activity compared with ENaC wild-type. No direct evidence for a mRNA splicing defect could be obtained for the βENaC intronic variant. The ratio of daily urinary potassium excretion to upright and mean (of supine and upright values) plasma renin activity was higher in variant allele carriers than in non-carriers (p = 0.034 and p = 0.048).
At least 9% of Finnish patients with hypertension admitted to a specialized center carry genetic variants of β and γENaC, a three times higher prevalence than in the normotensive individuals or in random healthy controls. Patients with the variant alleles showed an increased urinary potassium excretion rate in relation to their renin levels.
Animal studies suggest that local adipocyte-mediated activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) contributes to circulating levels, and may promote the development of obesity-related hypertension in rodents.
We examined relations of systemic RAAS activity, as assessed by circulating plasma renin activity (PRA), serum aldosterone level, and aldosterone:renin ratio (ARR), with specific regional adiposity measures in a large, community-based sample. Third Generation Framingham Heart Study participants underwent multidetector computed tomography assessment of SAT and VAT volumes during Exam 1 (2002 and 2005). PRA and serum aldosterone were measured after approximately 10 minutes of supine rest; results were log-transformed for analysis. Correlation coefficients between log-transformed RAAS measures and adiposity measurements were calculated, adjusted for age and sex. Partial correlations between log-transformed RAAS measures and adiposity measurements were also calculated, adjusted for standard CVD risk factors.
Overall, 992 women and 897 men were analyzed (mean age 40 years; 7% hypertension; 3% diabetes). No associations were observed with SAT (renin r = 0.04, p = 0.1; aldosterone r = -0.01, p = 0.6) or VAT (renin r = 0.03, p = 0.2; aldosterone r = -0.03, p = 0.2). Similar results were observed for ARR, in sex-stratified analyses, and for BMI and waist circumference. Non-significant partial correlations were also observed in models adjusted for standard cardiovascular risk factors.
Regional adiposity measures were not associated with circulating measures of RAAS activity in this large population-based study. Further studies are required to determine whether adipocyte-derived RAAS components contribute to systemic RAAS activity in humans.
A 41-year-old man, complaining of leg cramps, was found to have persistent hyperkalemia. Except for mild hypertension, his physical examination and laboratory values to exclude connective tissue diseases and diabetes mellitus were normal. Renal function testing revealed a normal glomerular filtration rate and tubular capacity to acidify and dilute, as well as near-normal ability to concentrate his urine. Hormonal evaluation revealed a normal cortisol, as well as normal resting and stimulated renin and aldosterone levels. A selective defect in tubular potassium secretion was demonstrated. In the absence of aldosterone deficiency or renal dysfunction, it was assumed that the patient had primary renal resistance to aldosterone, known as pseudohypoaldosteronism. Treatment with hydrochlorothiazide controlled his hyperkalemia and hypertension. His case emphasizes the diagnostic and therapeutic factors that should be considered in evaluating and treating a non-hospitalized patient with sustained hyperkalemia.