Pheochromocytoma tied to carotid vascular remodeling

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Jun 9 - Intimal medial thickness (IMT) is increased in patients with pheochromocytoma compared to both essential hypertensives and healthy controls, according to Italian researchers.

In the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Giampaulo Bernini of the University of Pisa and colleagues note that the elevated catecholamine levels associated with the condition may increase IMT as well as blood pressure.

To investigate, the researchers studied 14 patients with pheochromocytoma, 15 high-normal essential hypertensives, 15 mild essential hypertensives, and controls. All underwent ultrasonography of the carotid wall and other testing.

Plasma and urinary catecholamines and metanephrine levels were significantly higher in those in the pheochromocytoma group than in the other groups. The difference was more pronounced for adrenaline than noradrenaline.

In addition, in the pheochromocytoma group, IMT was not only significantly greater than in controls, but also greater than in both groups of hypertensives.

Moreover, compared to the other groups, in the pheochromocytoma group there was an elevation in the corrected ultrasonic integrated backscatter signal -- indicative of collagen deposition and vascular fibrosis. This was significantly associated with levels of urinary noradrenaline and normethanephrine.

The investigators conclude that in such patients, "abnormal catecholamine levels take part per se in carotid wall remodeling."

Last Updated: 2006-06-08 14:15:02 -0400 (Reuters Health)

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006;91:1754-1760.

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