Background. The immunohistochemical detection of aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) and steroid 11β-hydroxylase (CYP11B1) has enabled the identification of aldosterone-producing cell clusters (APCCs) in the subcapsular portion of the human adult adrenal cortex. We hypothesized that adrenals have layered zonation in early postnatal stages and are remodeled to possess APCCs over time. Purposes. To investigate changes in human adrenocortical zonation with age. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed adrenal tissues prepared from 33 autopsied patients aged between 0 and 50 years. They were immunostained for CYP11B2 and CYP11B1. The percentage of APCC areas over the whole adrenal area (AA/WAA, %) and the number of APCCs (NOA, APCCs/mm2) were calculated by four examiners. Average values were used in statistical analyses. Results. Adrenals under 11 years old had layered zona glomerulosa (ZG) and zona fasciculata (ZF) without apparent APCCs. Some adrenals had an unstained (CYP11B2/CYP11B1-negative) layer between ZG and ZF, resembling the rat undifferentiated cell zone. Average AA/WAA and NOA correlated with age, suggesting that APCC development is associated with aging. Possible APCC-to-APA transitional lesions were incidentally identified in two adult adrenals. Conclusions. The adrenal cortex with layered zonation remodels to possess APCCs over time. APCC generation may be associated with hypertension in adults.
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