Genetics in Endocrinology: Impact of race and sex on genetic causes of aldosterone-producing adenomas

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 K Nanba, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States
  • 2 W Rainey, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology , University of Michigan Medical school, Ann Arbor, United States

Correspondence: Kazutaka Nanba, Email:

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is a common cause of secondary hypertension. Recent technological advances in genetic analysis have provided a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this disease. The application of next-generation sequencing has resulted in the identification of somatic mutations in aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA), a major subtype of PA. Based on the recent findings using a sequencing method that selectively targets the tumor region where aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) is expressed, the vast majority of APAs appear to harbor a somatic mutation in one of the aldosterone-driver genes, including KCNJ5, ATP1A1, ATP2B3, CACNA1D, CACNA1H, and CLCN2. Mutations in these genes alter intracellular ion homeostasis and enhance aldosterone production. In a small subset of APAs, somatic activating mutations in the CTNNB1 gene, which encodes β-catenin, have also been detected. Accumulating evidence suggests that race and sex impact the somatic mutation spectrum of APA. Specifically, somatic mutations in the KCNJ5 gene, encoding an inwardly rectifying K+ channel, are common in APAs from Asian populations as well as women regardless of race. Associations between APA histology, genotype, and patient clinical characteristics have also been proposed, suggesting a potential need to consider race and sex for management of PA patients. Herein, we review recent findings regarding somatic mutations in APA and discuss potential roles of race and sex on the pathophysiology of APA as well as possible clinical implications.


     European Society of Endocrinology

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