Background: Clinicians are encouraged to take an individualized approach when treating hypertension in patients of African ancestry, but little is known about why the individual patient may respond well to calcium blockers and diuretics, but generally has an attenuated response to drugs inhibiting the renin-angiotensin system and to β-adrenergic blockers. Therefore, we systematically reviewed the factors associated with the differential drug response of patients of African ancestry to antihypertensive drug therapy.
Methods: Using the methodology of the systematic reviews narrative synthesis approach, we sought for published or unpublished studies that could explain the differential clinical efficacy of antihypertensive drugs in patients of African ancestry. PUBMED, EMBASE, LILACS, African Index Medicus and the Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency databases were searched without language restriction from their inception through June 2012.
Results: We retrieved 3,763 papers, and included 72 reports that mainly considered the 4 major classes of antihypertensive drugs, calcium blockers, diuretics, drugs that interfere with the renin-angiotensin system and β-adrenergic blockers. Pharmacokinetics, plasma renin and genetic polymorphisms did not well predict the response of patients of African ancestry to antihypertensive drugs. An emerging view that low nitric oxide and high creatine kinase may explain individual responses to antihypertensive drugs unites previous observations, but currently clinical data are very limited.
Conclusion: Available data are inconclusive regarding why patients of African ancestry display the typical response to antihypertensive drugs. In lieu of biochemical or pharmacogenomic parameters, self-defined African ancestry seems the best available predictor of individual responses to antihypertensive drugs.