Relationships among plasma aldosterone, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and insulin in humans
To investigate the pathogenesis of hypertension in patients with obesity and insulin resistance and to explore the role of plasma lipids, we studied 30 subjects at the end of 7 days of low (20 mEq/d) then high (200 mEq/d) sodium diets. Glucose and insulin tolerance tests were performed at the end of each week and blood and urine collected for measurements of plasma aldosterone, renin activity, electrolytes, insulin, and lipoproteins. There was a strong negative correlation between plasma aldosterone and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol during both diets. There were weaker positive correlations between plasma aldosterone and insulin or triglycerides. When the aldosterone-renin ratio was the dependent variable and the correlation controlled for serum potassium, the inverse relationship with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and the positive correlation with insulin remained, but only during the high salt diet. Subjects were divided into three groups based on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Subjects with the lowest high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels showed the highest aldosterone, plasma triglycerides, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio. Those subjects also demonstrated the greatest resistance to insulin action on glucose and plasma unesterified fatty acids. There was a weak direct correlation between plasma aldosterone and systolic blood pressure during the high salt diet. These data suggest that high aldosterone levels may be a link between dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and hypertension, a relationship made more evident by high salt intake.