TSPAN12 (Tetraspanin 12) Is a Novel Negative Regulator of Aldosterone Production in Adrenal Physiology and Aldosterone-Producing Adenomas

Hypertension. 2023 Feb;80(2):440-450. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.19783. Epub 2022 Dec 2.


Background: Aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs) are a major cause of primary aldosteronism, a condition of low-renin hypertension, in which aldosterone overproduction is usually driven by a somatic activating mutation in an ion pump or channel. TSPAN12 is differentially expressed in different subgroups of APAs suggesting a role in APA pathophysiology. Our objective was to determine the function of TSPAN12 (tetraspanin 12) in adrenal physiology and pathophysiology.

Methods: APA specimens, pig adrenals under dietary sodium modulation, and a human adrenocortical cell line HAC15 were used for functional characterization of TSPAN12 in vivo and in vitro.

Results: Gene ontology analysis of 21 APA transcriptomes dichotomized according to high versus low TSPAN12 transcript levels highlighted a function for TSPAN12 related to the renin-angiotensin system. TSPAN12 expression levels in a cohort of 30 APAs were inversely correlated with baseline plasma aldosterone concentrations (R=-0.47; P=0.009). In a pig model of renin-angiotensin system activation by dietary salt restriction, TSPAN12 mRNA levels and TSPAN12 immunostaining were markedly increased in the zona glomerulosa layer of the adrenal cortex. In vitro stimulation of human adrenocortical human adrenocortical cells with 10 nM angiotensin II for 6 hours caused a 1.6-fold±0.13 increase in TSPAN12 expression, which was ablated by 10 μM nifedipine (P=0.0097) or 30 μM W-7 (P=0.0022). Gene silencing of TSPAN12 in human adrenocortical cells demonstrated its inverse effect on aldosterone secretion under basal and angiotensin II stimulated conditions.

Conclusions: Our findings show that TSPAN12 is a negative regulator of aldosterone production and could contribute to aldosterone overproduction in primary aldosteronism.

Keywords: adrenal cortex; aldosterone; angiotensin II; hyperaldosteronism; pig model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma* / metabolism
  • Adrenal Cortex Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Adrenocortical Adenoma* / metabolism
  • Aldosterone / metabolism
  • Angiotensin II / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism* / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Tetraspanins / genetics


  • Aldosterone
  • Angiotensin II
  • Tetraspanins
  • TSPAN12 protein, human