How is tertiary aldosteronism characterized?

Updated: Mar 24, 2020
  • Author: Gabriel I Uwaifo, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Few well-described cases exist, but in most, the adrenal glands are hyperplastic, often with nodular hyperplasia (which can cause diagnostic confusion). Virtually all of the cases described are in the setting of renal artery stenosis, which complicates further the attribution of the hypertensive state to chronic “inappropriate” aldosterone excess.

Initially, renin levels are elevated, which is typical of secondary aldosteronism. When the tertiary (autonomous) phase develops, the biochemical profile changes to a low-renin/high-aldosterone state. The paradigm is analogous to the pathogenesis of tertiary hyperparathyroidism.


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