Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Increased levels of a hormone already linked to hypertension also might play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, especially among certain racial groups, according to a study.
Researchers at Ohio State University's College of Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center studied whether the hormone aldosterone, which is produced by the adrenal gland, isn't limited to hypertension. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Hypertension is common among patients with diabetes and is a strong factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart failure and microvascular complications, according to the American Diabetes Association.
"I looked into this as a promise to my father. He had high levels of aldosterone that contributed to his hypertension, and he thought it also might be linked to his diabetes," lead investigator Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said in a press release. "As my career progressed, I had the opportunity to research it, and we did find a link to diabetes."
For the new study, researchers followed 1,570 people between 45 and 84 years old from six communities in the United States for 10 years as part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis . The first exams began in 2000.
"We've known for some time that it increases blood pressure," Joseph said. "We've recently learned it also increases insulin resistance in muscle and impairs insulin secretion from the pancreas. Both actions increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the question was -- how much."
In the study, they found the risk of developing type 2 diabetes more than doubled for people who had higher levels of aldosterone with those lower levels of the hormone.
Chinese-Americans are 10 times more likely to develop diabetes if they have high aldosterone, And there is a three-fold increase for African-Americans.
Joseph said the difference among these population segments could be genetics, or differences in salt sensitivity, or something else entirely.
The study included 44 percent non‐Hispanic white people, 24 percent African Americans, 13 percent Chinese Americans and 24 percent Hispanic Americans.
Later this year, Joseph plans to begin enrolling African-Americans with prediabetes in a federally funded clinical trial. They will take medication to lower their aldosterone levels
"We know there's a relationship between aldosterone and type 2 diabetes," Joseph said. "Now we need to determine thresholds that will guide clinical care and the best medication for treatment."