Rectal potential difference (pd) is directly related to the plasma aldosterone concentration, and rises when aldosterone is stimulated by sodium deprivation. However, when the measurement of rectal pd was tested at a screening test for hyperaldosteronism in 19 hypertensive subjects, four of the eight with primary hyperaldosteronism had a normal pd and four of the eight without aldosterone excess had an abnormally raised potential difference. The technique cannot therefore be recommended as a routine screening test for hyperaldosteronism. No relationship was found between rectal pd and hypertension associated with excess of deoxycorticosterone. Rectal pd rises in response to the mineralocorticoid-like agent carbenoxolone.
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