1. Patients with idiopathic hyperaldosteronism (IHA) show a response of aldosterone to posture which is not present in patients with aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA). We have determined whether this could be explained by a different sensitivity to angiotensin II.
2. Angiotensin II was infused in gradually increasing doses in six patients with APA and in seven patients with IHA. No changes in aldosterone concentration were found at the end of each period in APA, whereas there was a significant increase in IHA; blood pressure rose by a similar extent in both groups.
3. In order to evaluate the role of endogenous angiotensin II, captopril, a converting enzyme inhibitor, was administered to six patients with APA and five patients with IHA at a dose of 75 mg/day for 1 week. There was a significant fall of mean blood pressure in IHA and only minimal changes in APA. Plasma renin activity and plasma and urinary aldosterone were unchanged in APA. In IHA there was a small increase in upright plasma renin activity and a slight decrease in both plasma and urinary aldosterone, but these changes were not significant.
4. These findings further support the idea that idiopathic hyperaldosteronism is a clinical state different from that occurring in primary aldosteronism due to adenoma, and may be more closely related to essential hypertension.