Separate and Interacting Effects of the Endogenous Circadian System and Behaviors on Plasma Aldosterone in Humans


Measurements of aldosterone for diagnosis of primary aldosteronism are usually made from blood sampled in the morning when aldosterone typically peaks. We tested the relative contributions and interacting influences of the circadian system, ongoing behaviors, and prior sleep to this morning peak in aldosterone. To determine circadian rhythmicity and separate effects of behaviors on aldosterone, 16 healthy participants completed a 5-day protocol in dim light while all behaviors ranging from sleep to exercise were standardized and scheduled evenly across the 24-h circadian period. In another experiment, to test the separate effects of prior nocturnal sleep or the inactivity that accompanies sleep on aldosterone, 10 healthy participants were studied across 2 nights: 1 with sleep and 1 with maintained wakefulness (randomized order). Plasma aldosterone was measured repeatedly in each experiment. Aldosterone had a significant endogenous rhythm (P < 0.001), rising across the circadian night and peaking in the morning (~8 AM). Activity, including exercise, increased aldosterone, and different behaviors modulated aldosterone differently across the circadian cycle (circadian phase × behavior interaction; P < 0.001). In the second experiment, prior nocturnal sleep and prior rested wakefulness both increased plasma aldosterone (P < 0.001) in the morning, to the same extent as the change in circadian phases between evening and morning. The morning increase in aldosterone is due to effects of the circadian system plus increased morning activities and not prior sleep or the inactivity accompanying sleep. These findings have implications for the time of and behaviors preceding measurement of aldosterone, especially under conditions of shift work and jet lag.

Authors: Saurabh S. Thosar, Jose F. Rueda, Alec M. Berman, Michael R. Lasarev, Maya X. Herzig, Noal A. Clemons, Sally A. Roberts, Nicole P. Bowles, Jonathan S. Emens, David H. Ellison, Steven A. Shea
Keywords: circadian rhythm, sleep
DOI Number: 10.1152/ajpregu.00314.2018      Publication Year: 2019

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