Lewis K. Dahl Memorial Lecture. The renin system and four lines fo hypertension research. Nephron heterogeneity, the calcium connection, the prorenin vasodilator limb, and plasma renin and heart attack.
As the major regulator of arterial blood pressure and sodium balance, the renin axis supports normotension or hypertension via angiotensin-mediated vasoconstriction and angiotensin plus aldosterone-induced renal sodium retention. In this endocrine servo control, renal renin is released by hypotension or salt depletion; conversely, with hypertension or volume excess, plasma renin activity falls to zero. Accordingly, any renal renin secretion is abnormal in the face of arterial hypertension. Human hypertensive disorders comprise a spectrum of abnormal vasoconstriction-volume products (renin-sodium profiles). Excess plasma renin activity for the sodium balance is created by nephron heterogeneity in which a subpopulation of ischemic nephrons hypersecretes renin and retains sodium. This excess renin impairs adaptive natriuresis of neighboring normal nephrons. Research defining the pivotal role of vascular cytosolic calcium for transducing sodium or renin-mediated vasoconstriction explains the selective value of calcium antagonists for correcting the sodium-volume-mediated, and beta-blockers or angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors for correcting renin-mediated, arteriolar vasoconstriction. The renin precursor prorenin appears to be physiologically active, causing selective vasodilation that offsets renin-mediated vasoconstriction. Overactivity of prorenin may be involved in the hyperperfusion vascular injuries of diabetes mellitus and toxemias. Prorenin underactivity may facilitate renin-mediated ischemic vascular injury. In essential hypertension, undue plasma renin activity is powerfully and independently associated with heart attack risk. Conversely, patients with low renin activity are protected from heart attack despite higher blood pressures and greater age. Also, renin or angiotensin administration consistently causes vascular injury in the heart, brain, and kidneys of animals. These data suggest new potentials for the prevention of cardiovascular sequelae (heart attack and stroke) by using explicit strategies to curtail plasma renin activity.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association