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. 1994 Jun;23(2):359-77.

Licorice-induced Hypertension and Syndromes of Apparent Mineralocorticoid Excess

  • PMID: 8070427

Licorice-induced Hypertension and Syndromes of Apparent Mineralocorticoid Excess

B R Walker et al. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. .


Excessive ingestion of licorice induces a syndrome of hypokalemia and hypertension that reflects increased activation of renal mineralocorticoid receptors by cortisol. A similar syndrome of cortisol-dependent mineralocorticoid excess occurs in congenital deficiency of the enzyme 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which normally inactivates cortisol to cortisone. It has been shown that licorice inhibits 11 beta-dehydrogenase, preventing local inactivation of cortisol and allowing cortisol inappropriate access to intrinsically nonspecific renal mineralocorticoid receptors. Further studies with licorice and its derivatives have revealed a widespread role for 11 beta-dehydrogenase in regulating tissue sensitivity to cortisol. Deficient 11 beta-dehydrogenase activity provides a novel pathogenetic mechanism for hypertension, and current research suggests that several common forms of hypertension can be explained by the mechanisms that operate in licorice-induced hypertension.

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