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Hypertension. 2012 Mar;59(3):587-91. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.186239. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

Somatic mutations affecting the selectivity filter of KCNJ5 are frequent in 2 large unselected collections of adrenal aldosteronomas.

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Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.


Primary hyperaldosteronism, one cause of which is aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs), may account for ≤5% to 10% of cases of essential hypertension. Germline mutations have been identified in 2 rare familial forms of primary hyperaldosteronism, but it has been reported recently that somatic mutations of the KCNJ5 gene, which encodes a potassium channel, are present in some sporadic nonsyndromic APAs. To address this further we screened 2 large collections of sporadic APAs from the United Kingdom and Australia (totalling 73) and found somatic mutations in the selectivity filter of KCNJ5 in 41% (95% CI: 31% to 53%) of the APAs (30 of 73). These included the previously noted nonsynonymous mutations, G151R and L158R, and an unreported 3-base deletion, delI157, in the region of the selectivity filter. APAs containing a somatic KCNJ5 mutation were significantly larger than those without (1.61 cm [95% CI: 1.39-1.83 cm] versus 1.04 cm [95% CI: 0.91-1.17 cm]; P<0.0001) but with substantial overlap in size between genotypes. The APAs carrying a mutation, but not those without, also consistently lacked a postural aldosterone response, suggesting a physiologically distinct subtype. Hence, somatic KCNJ5 mutations are not restricted to large APAs (>2 cm), and their frequency in our unselected series suggests they are common and could be important in the molecular pathogenesis of many sporadic cases of APA.

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