Steroid Profiling and Immunohistochemistry for Subtyping and Outcome Prediction in Primary Aldosteronism-a Review

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2019 Sep 3;21(10):77. doi: 10.1007/s11906-019-0985-0.


Purpose of review: Steroid profiling and immunohistochemistry are both promising new tools used to improve diagnostic accuracy in the work-up of primary aldosteronism (PA) and to predict treatment outcomes. Herein, we review the recent literature and present an outlook to the future of diagnostics and therapeutic decision-making in patients with PA.

Recent finding: PA is the most common endocrine cause of arterial hypertension and unilateral forms of the disease are potentially curable by surgical resection of the overactive adrenal. Recent studies have shown that adrenal steroid profiling by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can be helpful for subtyping unilateral and bilateral forms of PA, classifying patients with a unilateral aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) according to the presence of driver mutations of aldosterone production in APAs, and potentially predicting the outcomes of surgical treatment for unilateral PA. Following adrenalectomy, immunohistochemistry of aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) in resected adrenals is a new tool to analyze "functional" histopathology and may be an indicator of biochemical outcomes after surgery. Biochemical and clinical outcomes of therapy in PA vary widely among patients. Peripheral venous steroid profiling at baseline could improve diagnostic accuracy and help in surgical decision-making in cases of a suspected APA; results of "functional" histopathology could help determine which patients are likely to need close post-surgical follow-up for persistent aldosteronism.

Keywords: Adrenalectomy; Immunohistochemistry; LC-MS; Outcome; Primary aldosteronism; Steroid profiling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / complications
  • Adrenal Cortex / chemistry
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism
  • Adrenal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / analysis
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / metabolism*
  • Aldosterone / analysis
  • Aldosterone / biosynthesis*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2 / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2 / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / blood
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / metabolism*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Metabolome*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Aldosterone
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP11B2