Efficient screening of patients with aldosterone-producing adenoma using the ACTH stimulation test


Adrenal venous sampling (AVS) is the gold standard test for distinguishing between unilateral and bilateral primary aldosteronism (PA); however, AVS requires advanced and time consuming technique. The needs for AVS have been increasing due to the increased utilization of screening for PA. An efficient selection of unilateral PA, such as aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA), before AVS is useful to avoid undesirable AVS in bilateral PA, such as idiopathic hyperaldosteronism. In this study, 40 patients who received all three confirmatory tests, including the captopril challenge test, furosemide upright test and adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) stimulation test (AST), and who were diagnosed as having PA by AVS were recruited. Subjects were diagnosed as having unilateral aldosterone excess (n = 22) or bilateral aldosterone excess (n = 18) by AVS. All patients with unilateral PA underwent an operation and were finally diagnosed with APA. Major differences were detected in serum potassium level, basal plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC), presence of adrenal tumor, and AST results between the two groups. The PAC/cortisol ratio at 120 min in the AST showed the highest diagnostic capability for distinguishing the subtypes of PA according to a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis (area under the ROC curve was 0.956). At a cutoff value of 1.20 for the PAC/cortisol ratio at 120 min on the AST, the sensitivity was 95.5%, and the specificity was 88.9%. This sufficiently high sensitivity suggests that the PAC/cortisol ratio at 120 min in the AST could be useful for the screening of patients with PA who are suitable for AVS.

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Correspondence to Toshihiro Kita.

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Kita, T., Furukoji, E., Sakae, T. et al. Efficient screening of patients with aldosterone-producing adenoma using the ACTH stimulation test. Hypertens Res 42, 801–806 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41440-018-0191-5

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  • Primary aldosteronism
  • Adrenal venous sampling
  • Aldosterone-producing adenoma
  • ACTH stimulation test
  • Adrenal tumor

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