A critical review of the evidence supporting aldosterone in the etiology and its blockade in the treatment of obesity-associated hypertension


Obesity is epidemic and is associated with increased blood pressure, which often manifests as treatment-resistant hypertension. Mineralocorticoids have been hypothesized to have a pathogenic role in human obesity-associated hypertension. In this review, we critically appraise the existing data regarding aldosterone in the pathophysiology and treatment of obesity-associated hypertension. We begin by reviewing the mechanisms by which obesity may increase mineralocorticoid activity. We then discuss human studies of plasma and urine aldosterone in obesity and with weight loss. From these studies, we conclude that aldosterone is often, but not always, mildly increased in obesity. Further study is needed to define circumstances in which aldosterone is increased in obesity. We discuss clinical studies in which measures of body size or weight were evaluated as potential predictors of response to mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. In addition, we review three randomized, controlled clinical trials that exemplify a rigorous approach to determining the role of mineralocorticoid activity in a human disease. We propose that a similar clinical trial is warranted in order to definitively clarify the role of inappropriate mineralocorticoid activity in the etiology of human obesity-associated hypertension. Finally, we conclude that additional research is needed into the possible role of non-aldosterone mineralocorticoids in human obesity-associated hypertension.

Journal of Human Hypertension, 28(1)