High blood pressure may be caused by mutation in adrenal gland

Feb 10, 2011

High blood pressure may in some cases be caused by benign hormone-producing tumours of the adrenal cortex. A joint Swedish-American research effort has now uncovered a genetic cause behind the occurrence of such tumours. The findings were published today in the journal Science.

Approximately 5 per cent of patients with elevated blood pressure have benign endocrine tumours in their . The tumours produce abnormally high levels of the hormone aldosterone (the condition is known as primary aldosteronism), which in turn causes blood pressure to rise. Why the tumours arise has thus far been unknown.

Researchers at the Endocrine Surgery Unit at the Department of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University Hospital, in collaboration with colleagues at the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, have now identified a causal mechanism.

The genetic codes of the relevant genes in tumour and normal tissue were analyzed by means of exome sequencing, a new technique. The results showed that mutation in a specific potassium channel (KCNJ5) – which has a role in the passage of molecules into and out of cells – results, in a large number of cases, in tumour growth and overproduction of the hormone aldosterone. This leads to increased levels of potassium and water in the blood, which raise the blood pressure. The same mutation turns out to underlie a rare genetic disease characterised by a difficult-to-treat condition.

"The discovery may help to improve diagnostics in connection with primary aldosteronism and cases of severe blood pressure elevation," says Peyman Björklund, a researcher at the Department of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University. "The mutated potassium channel also represents a potential target molecule for treatment of the tumours in question."

Explore further: Missing protein restored in patients with muscular dystrophy

Related Stories

More blood vessels in hormone-resistant prostate tumors

Dec 15, 2009

Patients with advanced prostate cancer are often treated with hormones, but when the tumours start growing again they have more and different blood vessels, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University ...

Genes associated with aggressive breast cancer

Aug 16, 2010

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have for the first time identified 12 genes that could be associated with aggressive breast tumours. The discovery could result in more reliable prognoses and better treatment ...

Socking it to cancer

Aug 02, 2006

An Australian research team has identified a gene that could be used to stop tumours growing by blocking their blood supply.

New guidelines for treating resistant hypertension

Jun 06, 2008

Resistant hypertension, blood pressure that remains above goal despite taking three antihypertensive medications or high blood pressure that is controlled but requires four or more medications to do so, may benefit from specialized ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

17 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

18 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments : 0