Kidney Disease, Hypertension Treatment, and Cerebral Perfusion and Structure

Am J Kidney Dis. 2022 May;79(5):677-687.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2021.07.024. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


Rationale & objective: The safety of intensive blood pressure (BP) targets is controversial for persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We studied the effects of hypertension treatment on cerebral perfusion and structure in individuals with and without CKD.

Study design: Neuroimaging substudy of a randomized trial.

Setting & participants: A subset of participants in the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) who underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging studies. Presence of baseline CKD was assessed by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and urinary albumin-creatinine ratio (UACR).

Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to intensive (systolic BP <120 mm Hg) versus standard (systolic BP <140 mm Hg) BP lowering.

Outcomes: The magnetic resonance imaging outcome measures were the 4-year change in global cerebral blood flow (CBF), white matter lesion (WML) volume, and total brain volume (TBV).

Results: A total of 716 randomized participants with a mean age of 68 years were enrolled; follow-up imaging occurred after a median 3.9 years. Among participants with eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (n = 234), the effects of intensive versus standard BP treatment on change in global CBF, WMLs, and TBV were 3.38 (95% CI, 0.32 to 6.44) mL/100 g/min, -0.06 (95% CI, -0.16 to 0.04) cm3 (inverse hyperbolic sine-transformed), and -3.8 (95% CI, -8.3 to 0.7) cm3, respectively. Among participants with UACR >30 mg/g (n = 151), the effects of intensive versus standard BP treatment on change in global CBF, WMLs, and TBV were 1.91 (95% CI, -3.01 to 6.82) mL/100 g/min, 0.003 (95% CI, -0.13 to 0.13) cm3 (inverse hyperbolic sine-transformed), and -7.0 (95% CI, -13.3 to -0.3) cm3, respectively. The overall treatment effects on CBF and TBV were not modified by baseline eGFR or UACR; however, the effect on WMLs was attenuated in participants with albuminuria (P = 0.04 for interaction).

Limitations: Measurement variability due to multisite design.

Conclusions: Among adults with hypertension who have primarily early kidney disease, intensive versus standard BP treatment did not appear to have a detrimental effect on brain perfusion or structure. The findings support the safety of intensive BP treatment targets on brain health in persons with early kidney disease.

Funding: SPRINT was funded by the National Institutes of Health (including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Institute on Aging; and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke), and this substudy was funded by the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Trial registration: SPRINT was registered at with study number NCT01206062.

Keywords: Hypertension; albuminuria; blood pressure (BP); cerebral perfusion; chronic kidney disease (CKD); intensive BP control; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); neuroimaging; white matter injury; white matter lesions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Male
  • Perfusion
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic*


  • Antihypertensive Agents

Associated data