Polymorphisms of amiloride-sensitive sodium channel subunits in five sporadic cases of pseudohypoaldosteronism: do they have pathologic potential?
Pseudohypoaldosteronism (PHA) is characterized by congenital resistance of the kidney and/or other mineralocorticoid target tissues to aldosterone, resulting in excessive salt wasting. Mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and postreceptor defects in the aldosterone-responsive amiloride-sensitive sodium channel (ENaC) subunits have been suggested as potential loci of the defect in this disease, whereas recently defects in MR and ENaC subunits were reported in familial PHA cases. Here we studied the ENaC subunit alpha, beta, and gamma complementary DNAs (cDNAs) in a series of five sporadic cases of PHA, whose MR cDNA contained nonconservative homozygous (C944-->T944, Ala241-->Val241) and/or a conservative heterozygous substitutions (A760-->G760, Ileu180-->Val180), which, however, were also present at high frequencies in a control population with apparently normal salt conservation. We found a nonconservative substitution (A2086-->G2086, Thr663-->Ala663) in the alphaENaC in all five of our patients, two of whom were homozygous and three of whom were heterozygous for this alteration, which was also present in the homozygous and heterozygous form in 31% and 64% of control subjects, respectively. We also found a nonconservative homozygous substitution (C1006-->G1006, Pro336-->Ara336) in the betaENaC and three nonconservative and conservative homozygous substitutions (T554-->A554, Trp178-->Arg178; C1526-->G1526, Pro501-->Ala501; T1862-->G1862, Ser614-->Ala614) in the gammaENaC of all five of our patients and in a substantial proportion of control subjects. Interestingly, when the patient group was compared to controls, a significantly increased concurrence of the MR and alphaENaC polymorphisms was found in the patients (P<0.025). We conclude that the changes identified in the cDNA of the three ENaC subunits in the patients with sporadic PHA are polymorphisms, which on their own have no apparent pathophysiological significance. We hypothesize, however, that these polymorphisms might influence salt conservation negatively if they are present concurrently with other genetic defects of the MR or other proteins that participate in sodium homeostasis. The latter would be compatible with a sporadic presentation and digenic or multigenic expression and heredity in PHA.