Glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism (GRA): diagnosis, variability of phenotype and regulation of potassium homeostasis

Steroids. 1995 Jan;60(1):48-51. doi: 10.1016/0039-128x(94)00010-a.


Glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism (GRA) is a hereditary cause of human hypertension in which aldosterone secretion is regulated by adrenocorticotropin (ACTH). A genetic mutation which causes GRA has recently been identified in our laboratory, a hybrid or chimeric gene fusing nucleotide sequences of the 11 beta-hydroxylase and aldosterone synthase genes. The finding that these chimeric gene duplications are sensitive and specific markers for GRA allows for a simple, direct genetic test for this disorder. In preliminary studies, we found a wide range of blood pressure levels (including normotension) in affected GRA subjects. Studies to data indicate that this is not related to environmental factors such as sodium intake. Another possibility is that chimeric gene expression is variable, with low blood pressure subjects having reduced gene expression. However, the data have not demonstrated differences in steroid levels in subjects with severe versus mild hypertension. In fact, it is likely that the wide range in blood pressure levels in affected subjects involves interaction of other systems which control blood pressure. Preliminary data in two kindreds suggest that blood pressure levels are reciprocally related to levels of urinary kallikrein excretion, supporting the notion that GRA is a hypertension-predisposing syndrome, with the resultant blood pressure the interaction of the gene mutation with other blood pressure regulatory systems. Although GRA is a mineralocorticoid excess state, as evidenced by profoundly suppressed levels of plasma renin activity, we have observed (contrary to the reported literature) that normokalemia is a typical finding. In one large normokalemic pedigree, preliminary findings indicate that these subjects have a normal capacity to excrete potassium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis
  • Hyperaldosteronism / drug therapy*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / epidemiology
  • Hyperaldosteronism / physiopathology
  • Phenotype
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Prevalence


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Potassium