Aldosterone has been linked to the deleterious cardiovascular effects of obesity in humans. The association of aldosterone with obesity in rodents is less well defined, particularly in models of diet-induced obesity. We hypothesized that adrenal aldosterone production and aldosterone synthase expression would be increased in rats with obesity-induced hypertension. Male Sprague Dawley rats were fed a high-fat (HF: 36% fat) or control diet from 3 wk of age, and mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured by telemetry. MAP was increased after 4 wk of HF diet; this was 6 wk before changes in body weight. Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism did not prevent the HF-induced increase in MAP. After 17 wk on the diets, HF rats had increased body and fat weights (abdominal and epididymal) and were insulin resistant (Homeostasis Model Assessment index: 3.53 ± 0.43 vs. 8.52 ± 1.77; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). Plasma aldosterone levels were increased in the HF rats (64.14 ± 14.96 vs. 206.25 ± 47.55 pg/ml; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). This occurred independently of plasma renin activity (4.8 ± 0.92 vs. 4.73 ± 0.66 ng/ml/h, control vs. HF). The increase in aldosterone was accompanied by a 2-fold increase in adrenal aldosterone synthase mRNA expression and zona glomerulosa hypertrophy. Rats were also studied after 8 wk of HF diet, a time when MAP, but not body weight, was increased. At this time plasma aldosterone was unchanged but plasma renin activity was increased (4.4 ± 0.5 vs. 8.1 ± 1.3 ng/ml/h; control vs. HF, P < 0.05). These studies suggest that rats fed a HF diet from weaning may be a useful model for studying obesity-associated hyperaldosteronism.
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