Hormone aldosterone is promising target for stroke treatment

A bi-polar hormone that can contribute to strokes and minimize their damage is emerging as a therapeutic target in the battle against these brain attacks, researchers say.

"It costs about $56 billion a year to look after stroke patients, never mind the quality-of-life issues for these patients," says Dr. Anne M. Dorrance, Medical College of Georgia physiologist and senior author of a review article on the cover of the November issue of Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Despite better management of blood pressure the number-one risk factor for strokes stroke incidence is not declining and aging baby boomers likely will cause rates to spike, says Dr. Dorrance.

She is among an increasing number of scientists who think the hormone, aldosterone, is part of the problem and blocking it may be part of the solution. Scientific momentum surrounding the hormone secreted by the adrenal gland prompted the journal to ask Dr. Dorrance to write the article, "Aldosterone: Good Guy or Bad Guy in Cerebrovascular Disease."

She calls aldosterone "a double-edged sword" that helps maintain healthy blood pressure but also dangerously reshapes blood vessels and makes the heart fibrotic. Its conflicting roles in the body are clearly played out in the brain of hypertensives.

"What aldosterone does under normal circumstances is regulate sodium balance in the body," says Dr. Dorrance. When sodium levels rise, aldosterone levels drop so the kidneys will eliminate more sodium to help maintain a healthy blood pressure and vice versa. "Ten years ago, we would have told you all aldosterone does is work on the kidneys," she says.

In recent years, Dr. Dorrance and others have learned aldosterone works in many ways many of them bad inside blood vessels throughout the body and brain where there are many aldosterone receptors.

As with most things, too much aldosterone resulting from an adrenal gland tumor or abnormal production for unk

Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia

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