Hereditary causes of primary aldosteronism and other disorders of apparent excess mineralocorticoid activity

Xin He, Zubin Modi, Tobias Else


Secondary hypertension is a common condition with a broad differential diagnosis. Identification of the true cause of hypertension can be critical for guiding appropriate management. Here, we review hereditary conditions underlying the most common cause of secondary hypertension, primary aldosteronism, as well as other disorders impacting various levels of mineralocorticoid action. Recently, several pathogenic variants of ion channels have been described as etiologies of familial aldosteronism. Defects in steroid hormone synthesis cause hypertension in 11β-hydroxylase deficiency and 17α-hydroxylase deficiency, two types of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Inappropriate activation of mineralocorticoid receptors underlies the syndrome of apparent mineralocorticoid excess and constitutive activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor. Finally, Liddle syndrome and pseudohypoaldosteronism type 2 are disorders impacting the function of renal sodium channels, the endpoint of mineralocorticoid action. We discuss the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis and management of these low renin hypertension states that ultimately result in apparent excess mineralocorticoid activity.