Association of Adrenal Steroids With Hypertension and the Metabolic Syndrome in Blacks


Blacks have a high prevalence of hypertension and adrenal cortical adenomas/hyperplasia. We evaluated the hypothesis that adrenal steroids are associated with hypertension and the metabolic syndrome in blacks. Ambulatory blood pressures, anthropometric measurements, and measurements of plasma renin activity (PRA), aldosterone, fasting lipids, glucose, and insulin were obtained in 397 subjects (46% hypertensive and 50% female) after discontinuing antihypertensive and lipid-lowering medications. Hypertension was defined as average ambulatory blood pressure >130/85 mm Hg. Late-night and early morning salivary cortisol, 24-hour urine-free cortisol, and cortisone excretion were measured in a consecutive subsample of 97 subjects (40% hypertensive and 52% female). Compared with normotensive subjects, hypertensive subjects had greater waist circumference and unfavorable lipid profiles, were more insulin resistant, and had lower PRA and higher plasma aldosterone and both late-night and early morning salivary cortisol concentrations. Twenty-four–hour urine-free cortisol and cortisone did not differ. Overall, ambulatory blood pressure was positively correlated with plasma aldosterone (r=0.22; P<0.0001) and late-night salivary cortisol (r=0.23; P<0.03) and inversely correlated with PRA (r=-0.21; P<0.001). Plasma aldosterone correlated significantly with waist circumference, total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and the insulin-resistance index. Based on Adult Treatment Panel III criteria, 17% of all of the subjects were classified as having the metabolic syndrome. Plasma aldosterone levels, but not PRA, were elevated in subjects with the metabolic syndrome (P<0.0002). The association of aldosterone with blood pressure, waist circumference, and insulin resistance suggests that aldosterone may contribute to obesity-related hypertension in blacks. In addition, we speculate that relatively high aldosterone and low PRA in these hypertensive individuals may reflect a mild variant of primary aldosteronism.

Authors: Srividya Kidambi, Jane M. Kotchen, Clarence E. Grim, Hershel Raff, Jingnan Mao, Ravinder J. Singh, Theodore A. Kotchen
Keywords: aldosterone, cortisol, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, plasma renin activity
DOI Number: 10.1161/01.HYP.0000253258.36141.c7      Publication Year: 2006

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