High Blood Pressure Medication Shows Potential in Preventing Damage from AKI

Article

Investigators hope findings of study in mice help improve treatment for individuals with acute kidney injury.

Investigators found that medication used to treat angina and high blood pressure (HBP) prevented long-term damage to the cardiovascular system and kidneys caused by acute kidney injury (AKI), according to the results of a study in mice published in Science Translational Medicine.1

Investigators hope these findings help improve treatment for individuals with AKI, which is usually caused by other illnesses that can reduce blood flow to the kidneys or by toxicity from medications.1

“AKI is a harmful condition, particularly in older people and even with recovery it can have a long-term impact on a person’s health. Our study shows that blocking the endothelin system prevents the long-term damage of AKI in mice,” Neeraj Dhaun, senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant nephrologist at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said in a statement.1

“As these medicines are already available for use in humans, I hope that we can move quickly to seeing if the same beneficial effects are seen in our patients,” he said.

Investigators from the University of Edinburgh discovered that patients with AKI had increased blood levels of endothelin, which is a protein that activates inflammation and causes blood vessels to constrict. Additionally, endothelin levels were still high after kidney function had recovered.1

After finding the same increase of endothelin in mice with AKI, the investigators treated them with medicine that blocked the endothelin system. The medication, which was typically used to treat angina and HBP, worked by shutting off endothelin receptors in cells or stopping the production of endothelin . The mice were monitored over a 4-week period after AKI.1

Investigators found that the mice that were treated with the medication had less inflammation, lower blood pressure, and reduced scarring in the kidney. Further, their blood vessels were more relaxed, and their kidney function also improved compared with untreated mice.1

“Impaired kidney function that results from [AKI] can also increase a [individual’s] chance of developing and dying from heart and circulatory diseases, so it’s vital we find ways to reduce this risk,” James Leiper, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement.1

“This promising research suggests that widely available medicines could help to tackle the impact of [AKI] before it can cause damage and further complications. While further studies will be needed to demonstrate whether this treatment is safe and effective for patients, this early research is an encouraging first step,” Leiper said.1

The study was funded by the medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.1

AKI is a decline in kidney function that can cause long-term kidney damage and even death, though it is often preventable or reversible, according to the CDC.2

Chronic kidney disease is often a risk factor for AKI, and vice versa.2

References

1. Drug discovery offers potential treatment for common kidney disease. EurekAlert. News release. December 14, 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/974316

2. Chronic kidney disease surveillance system—United States. CDC. December 1, 2022. Accessed December 19, 2022. http://www.cdc.gov/ckd

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