4 March 2021

Niels Riksen, theme Vascular damage and colleagues, published a important article in the Journal of clinical endocrinology & metabolism about arterial wall inflammation and increased hematopoietic activity in patients with primary aldosteronism.

Context: Primary aldosteronism (PA) confers an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), independent of blood pressure. Animal models have shown that aldosterone accelerates atherosclerosis through proinflammatory changes in innate immune cells; human data are scarce.

Objective: The objective of this article is to explore whether patients with PA have increased arterial wall inflammation, systemic inflammation, and reprogramming of monocytes.

Design: A cross-sectional cohort study compared vascular inflammation on 2'-deoxy-2'-(18F)fluoro-D-glucose; (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography-computed tomography, systemic inflammation, and monocyte phenotypes and transcriptome between PA patients and controls.

Setting: This study took place at Radboudumc and Rijnstate Hospital, the Netherlands.

Patients: Fifteen patients with PA and 15 age-, sex-, and blood pressure-matched controls with essential hypertension (EHT) participated.

Main outcome measures and results: PA patients displayed a higher arterial 18F-FDG uptake in the descending and abdominal aorta (P < .01, P < .05) and carotid and iliac arteries (both P < .01). In addition, bone marrow uptake was higher in PA patients (P < .05). Although PA patients had a higher monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio (P < .05), systemic inflammatory markers, cytokine production capacity, and transcriptome of circulating monocytes did not differ. Monocyte-derived macrophages from PA patients expressed more TNFA; monocyte-derived macrophages of healthy donors cultured in PA serum displayed increased interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α production.

Conclusions: Because increased arterial wall inflammation is associated with accelerated atherogenesis and unstable plaques, this might importantly contribute to the increased CVD risk in PA patients. We did not observe inflammatory reprogramming of circulating monocytes. However, subtle inflammatory changes are present in the peripheral blood cell composition and monocyte transcriptome of PA patients, and in their monocyte-derived macrophages. Most likely, arterial inflammation in PA requires interaction between various cell types.

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