1. There is increasing evidence which suggests that the adrenal gland contains the renin–angiotensin cycle. The localization of renin has been reported to be mainly in the zona glomerulosa rather than the fasciculata medullary portion. In the present study we have investigated extracts from aldosteronomas (n = 3), which are believed to derive from the zona glomerulosa cells. In addition, we have attempted to characterize the biochemical properties of the adrenal renin.
2. Sizable quantities of renin-like activity (32.0 ± 7.7 ng of angiotensin I generated h−1 mg−1 of protein, mean ± SEM) were detected in the extracts. This renin-like activity was inhibited by anti-renin antibody raised against pure renin (mean, 95% of the total renin-like activity), indicating that it was not due to the non-specific action of proteases such as cathepsin D.
3. The optimum pH of the tissue renin-like enzyme was 6.0 for rat plasma substrate. Differences were found, however, in the molecular mass (36000, 37000, 44000 and 48000), binding to concanavalin A and isoelectric points (4.40, 4.68 and 5.00).
4. These results confirm the existence of specific renin in aldosteronoma. Renin microheterogeneity could be evidence for local production of the enzyme.