Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Primary Aldosteronism Physiology

The adrenal gland is made up of two main sections: the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The adrenal cortex produces steroid hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenal medulla produces epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Primary Aldosteronism ACTH

The pituitary hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH, is made by the pituitary gland. ACTH regulates the production of cortisol by the adrenal gland. ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol.

High levels of cortisol can result from an ACTH producing tumor in the pituitary gland or a cortisol-producing tumor in the adrenal cortex. Cortisol levels in the blood and urine are measured, in order to evaluate the function of the pituitary and adrenal glands.

Primary Aldosteronism Aldosterone

Aldosterone is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone regulates the amount of salt and water in the body. Aldosterone stimulates the kidneys to retain salt and water.

Primary Aldosteronism Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland to control blood sugar levels. Increasing levels of cortisol cause an increase in blood glucose levels.

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2007 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Primary Aldosteronism References
  1. Capricchione A, Winer N, Sowers JR. Adrenocortical hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2004 Jun;6(3):224-9. [15128476]
  2. Kaplan NM. The current epidemic of primary aldosteronism: causes and consequences. J Hypertens. 2004 May;22(5):863-9. [15097219]
  3. Mulatero P, Dluhy RG, Giacchetti G, Boscaro M, Veglio F, Stewart PM. Diagnosis of primary aldosteronism: from screening to subtype differentiation. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Apr;16(3):114-9. [15808809]
  4. Vaughan ED Jr. Diseases of the adrenal gland. Med Clin North Am. 2004 Mar;88(2):443-66. [15049587]
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