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Endocrinology. 2012 Apr;153(4):1764-73. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-1176. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

The development of hypertension and hyperaldosteronism in a rodent model of life-long obesity.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


Aldosterone has been linked to the deleterious cardiovascular effects of obesity in humans. The association of aldosterone with obesity in rodents is less well defined, particularly in models of diet-induced obesity. We hypothesized that adrenal aldosterone production and aldosterone synthase expression would be increased in rats with obesity-induced hypertension. Male Sprague Dawley rats were fed a high-fat (HF: 36% fat) or control diet from 3 wk of age, and mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured by telemetry. MAP was increased after 4 wk of HF diet; this was 6 wk before changes in body weight. Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism did not prevent the HF-induced increase in MAP. After 17 wk on the diets, HF rats had increased body and fat weights (abdominal and epididymal) and were insulin resistant (Homeostasis Model Assessment index: 3.53 ± 0.43 vs. 8.52 ± 1.77; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). Plasma aldosterone levels were increased in the HF rats (64.14 ± 14.96 vs. 206.25 ± 47.55 pg/ml; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). This occurred independently of plasma renin activity (4.8 ± 0.92 vs. 4.73 ± 0.66 ng/ml/h, control vs. HF). The increase in aldosterone was accompanied by a 2-fold increase in adrenal aldosterone synthase mRNA expression and zona glomerulosa hypertrophy. Rats were also studied after 8 wk of HF diet, a time when MAP, but not body weight, was increased. At this time plasma aldosterone was unchanged but plasma renin activity was increased (4.4 ± 0.5 vs. 8.1 ± 1.3 ng/ml/h; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). These studies suggest that rats fed a HF diet from weaning may be a useful model for studying obesity-associated hyperaldosteronism.

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