A new study by the researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine has suggested that aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be doing harm to the organs.
The researchers made this observation when they were studying some strange lesions in mice that have lost the ability of produce the enzyme renin. Similar lesions are also seen in patients suffering from high blood pressure. Their study revealed that the lesions were caused by the renin cells. In some treatments for high blood pressure, renin cells are targeted and that might give rise to the lesions.
Ariel Gomez, MD, who is the director of UVA’s Child Health Research Center, remarked that in order to treat hypertension, inhibitors of the renin angiotensin system are being used for quite a while and they are considered largely safe. He added that their research on mice have indicated that the complete lack of renin causes vascular lesions. Now that poses a question whether long-term and aggressive use of compounds that completely demolish the renin angiotensin system cause any problems in humans. More research into the subject is needed to find a definitive answer.
What is Renin’s Role in Managing Blood Pressure?
The role of the hormone renin in the body is to regulate blood pressure. The cells that produce renin also play a vital role in blood vessels creation during the developmental phase in the womb. When these cells were blocked from producing renin in adult mice, it led to the creation of obstructive vascular lesions in the kidneys. It seemed like the blood vessel now created by renin cells were defective, disorganized and directionless and didn't carry out the functions they were meant to. Gomez added that typically arteries are thin and let blood pass through it. But, that was not the case when renin production was blocked. The lesions were filled with non-functional cells.
Researcher Maria Luisa S. Sequeira-Lopez, MD said that their study led them to think, whether stopping the cells from carrying out their routine function extended over long periods of time was having an undesirable and unintended side effect in patients with high blood pressure. She added that since renin plays an important part during pregnancy, renin inhibition is avoided during pregnancy as it can have unwanted effects in the development of the baby.
Questioning the Combination
Gomez and Sequeira-Lopez made clear that not all hypertension drugs have this effect on the kidney. Only certain less common combination treatments that work by completely blocking the whole renin-angiotensin system need to be reevaluated as they chronically stimulate renin cells to accumulate inappropriately to form lesions in the kidney. Together with low blood pressure, kidney structure can be severely affected. High blood pressure patients should ask their doctors before stopping taking their prescribed medications as it can lead to worse problems.
The next thing to do in the research process is to delve deeper into their findings so that they can have a better understanding of the whole thing. Also, they have to find out if what happens in mice also holds true in humans.
Gomez added that they need to find out whether it is necessary or not to use dual combinations of drugs that over-activate renin cells plus they need to know how low and how fast blood pressure should be lowered. Once that's done, the effects this combination treatment has in individuals needed to be looked at and analyzed.
In case the findings are found to apply to humans also, they will have to work on finding how exactly it happens as in what molecules are activated, and how to act on those molecules to prevent the overgrowth of the vessels. Gomez added that physicians might then need to exercise control and use their judgment wisely before treating hypertension using full-blown inhibition.
Looking for ways to improve your blood pressure? Click Here!