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Kati M Donner, Timo P Hiltunen, Olli A Jänne, Timo Sane, and Kimmo Kontula

Objective

Generalized glucocorticoid resistance is characterized by impaired cortisol signaling, resulting from mutations of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene NR3C1. The objective of our study was to identify the causative mutation in a patient with clinical manifestations compatible with generalized glucocorticoid resistance and to determine the functional consequences of the mutation. The possible occurrence of NR3C1 mutations in a selected group of hypertensive subjects with low plasma renin and aldosterone levels was also explored.

Patients

The proband, a male athlete, was diagnosed with hypertension associated with low plasma renin activity and low serum aldosterone concentration at the age of 27 years. Liddle's syndrome was suspected and the patient was treated with amiloride with initial success. Subsequent examinations revealed elevated serum cortisol and ACTH levels, with resistance to suppression with low doses of dexamethasone. After identification of an NR3C1 mutation in the proband, the available family members and 51 nonrelated hypertensive subjects with low plasma renin and aldosterone concentrations were also studied.

Results

A two-nucleotide deletion in exon 9α, predicted to cause a frameshift mutation (p.L773VfsX25) in the hormone-binding domain of the GR, was identified in the patient in a heterozygous form. Affected brother and father died of premature coronary heart disease. Functional studies in COS-1 cells showed that this mutation eliminates both ligand-binding and transactivation ability of the receptor. No pathogenic NR3C1 mutations were identified in 51 unrelated hypertensive patients with low plasma renin and aldosterone levels.

Conclusion

We identified a novel frameshift mutation in NR3C1 as the cause of glucocorticoid resistance. The mutation eliminates the functional activity of the GR, as studied by in vitro experiments. Mutations in NR3C1 do not seem to be common causes for hypertension with low renin and aldosterone levels.

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Minna Soinio, Anna-Kaarina Luukkonen, Marko Seppänen, Jukka Kemppainen, Janne Seppänen, Juha-Pekka Pienimäki, Helena Leijon, Tiina Vesterinen, Johanna Arola, Eila Lantto, Semi Helin, Ilkka Tikkanen, Saara Metso, Tuomas Mirtti, Ilkka Heiskanen, Leena Norvio, Mirja Tiikkainen, Tuula Tikkanen, Timo Sane, Matti Välimäki, Celso E Gomez-Sanchez, Ilkka Pörsti, Pirjo Nuutila, Pasi I Nevalainen, and Niina Matikainen

Objective

Endocrine Society guidelines recommend adrenal venous sampling (AVS) in primary aldosteronism (PA) if adrenalectomy is considered. We tested whether functional imaging of adrenal cortex with 11C-metomidate (11C-MTO) could offer a noninvasive alternative to AVS in the subtype classification of PA.

Design

We prospectively recruited 58 patients with confirmed PA who were eligible for adrenal surgery.

Methods

Subjects underwent AVS and 11C-MTO-PET without dexamethasone pretreatment in random order. The lateralization of 11C-MTO-PET and adrenal CT were compared with AVS in all subjects and in a prespecified adrenalectomy subgroup in which the diagnosis was confirmed with immunohistochemical staining for CYP11B2.

Results

In the whole study population, the concordance of AVS and 11C-MTO-PET was 51% and did not differ from that of AVS and adrenal CT (53%). The concordance of AVS and 11C-MTO-PET was 55% in unilateral and 44% in bilateral PA. In receiver operating characteristics analysis, the maximum standardized uptake value ratio of 1.16 in 11C-MTO-PET had an AUC of 0.507 (P = n.s.) to predict allocation to adrenalectomy or medical therapy with sensitivity of 55% and specificity of 44%. In the prespecified adrenalectomy subgroup, AVS and 11C-MTO-PET were concordant in 10 of 19 subjects with CYP11B2-positive adenoma and in 6 of 10 with CYP11B2-positivity without an adenoma.

Conclusions

The concordance of 11C-MTO-PET with AVS was clinically suboptimal, and did not outperform adrenal CT. In a subgroup with CYP11B2-positive adenoma, 11C-MTO-PET identified 53% of cases. 11C-MTO-PET appeared to be inferior to AVS for subtype classification of PA.