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Unique Gene Expression Signature in Periadrenal Adipose Tissue Identifies a High Blood Pressure Group in Patients With Cushing Syndrome

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Cushing syndrome (CS) is a rare disease caused by excess cortisol levels with high cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Hypertension in CS promotes hypercortisolism-associated cardiovascular events. Adipose tissue is a highly plastic tissue with most cell types strongly affected by the excess cortisol exposure. We hypothesized that the molecular and cellular changes of periadrenal adipose tissue in response to cortisol excess impact systemic blood pressure levels in patients with CS.



We investigated gene expression signatures in periadrenal adipose tissue from patients with adrenal CS collected during adrenal surgery.



During active CS we observed a downregulation of gene programs associated with inflammation in periadrenal adipose tissue. In addition, we observed a clustering of the patients based on tissue gene expression profiles into 2 groups according to blood pressure levels (CS low blood pressure and CS high blood pressure). The 2 clusters showed significant differences in gene expression pattens of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system. Renin was the strongest regulated gene compared with control patients and its expression correlated with increased blood pressure observed in our patients with CS. In the CS high blood pressure group, systemic renin plasma levels were suppressed indicative of an abnormal blood pressure associated with periadrenal adipose tissue renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system activation.



Here, we show for the first time a relevant association of the local renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system and systemic blood pressure levels in patients with CS. Patients from the CS high blood pressure group still had increased blood pressure levels after 6 months in remission, highlighting the importance of local tissue effects on long-term systemic effects observed in CS.


*U. Stifel and F. Vogel contributed equally.

For Sources of Funding and Disclosures, see page xxx.

Supplemental Material is available at https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/suppl/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.123.21185.

Correspondence to: Martin Reincke, Department of Medicine IV, University Hospital, LMU Munich, GermanyEmail martin.reincke@med.uni-muenchen.de
Jan Tuckermann, Institute of Comparative Molecular Endocrinology (CME), Ulm University, GermanyEmail jan.tuckermann@uni-ulm.de


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From https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.123.21185

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