Novel biomarkers in patients with uncontrolled hypertension with and without kidney damage

Blood Press. 2024 Dec;33(1):2323980. doi: 10.1080/08037051.2024.2323980. Epub 2024 Apr 12.


Introduction: Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and urine albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) are insensitive biomarkers for early detection of hypertension-mediated organ damage (HMOD). In this nationwide cross-sectional study, we assessed potential biomarkers for early HMOD in healthy persons and patients with hypertension. We hypothesised that plasma levels of biomarkers: (1) are different between healthy controls and patients with hypertension, (2): can classify patients with hypertension according to the degree of hypertension severity.

Design and methods: Patients with hypertension prescribed ≥2 antihypertensive agents were selected from a multicentre study. Healthy controls were selected from an ongoing study of living kidney donor candidates. Uncontrolled hypertension was defined as systolic daytime ambulatory blood pressure ≥135 mmHg. Kidney HMOD was defined by ACR > 3.0 mg/mmol or eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. Patients with hypertension were categorised into three groups: (1) controlled hypertension; (2) uncontrolled hypertension without kidney HMOD; (3) uncontrolled hypertension with kidney HMOD. Fifteen biomarkers were analysed using a Luminex bead-based immunoassay, and nine fell within the specified analytical range.

Results: Plasma levels of Interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and uromodulin were significantly different between healthy controls (n = 39) and patients with hypertension (n = 176). In regression models, with controlled hypertension (n = 55) as the reference category, none of the biomarkers were associated with uncontrolled hypertension without (n = 59) and with (n = 62) kidney HMOD. In models adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors and eGFR, osteopontin (OPN) was associated with uncontrolled hypertension without kidney HMOD (odds ratio (OR) 1.77 (1.05-2.98), p = 0.03), and regulated upon activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES) with uncontrolled hypertension with kidney HMOD (OR 0.57 (0.34-0.95), p = 0.03).

Conclusions: None of the biomarkers could differentiate our hypertension groups when established risk factors were considered. Plasma OPN may identify patients with uncontrolled hypertension at risk for kidney HMOD.

Keywords: Hypertension; fibrosis; hypertension-mediated organ damage (HMOD); inflammation; kidney damage.

Plain language summary

What is the context? In order to tailor individualised hypertension treatment, a risk assessment for cardiovascular disease (CVD) must be performed. This includes evaluation of established hypertension-mediated organ damage (HMOD), such as the presence of kidney damage and associated risk factors. Today, kidney function is assessed by blood and urine samples. However, today’s blood and urine samples are not sensitive enough to capture kidney damage due to hypertension at a stage when prevention may be most effective.What is new? In this study, we evaluated plasma levels of biomarkers related to endothelial and kidney cell pathology, inflammation and fibrosis in healthy patients and patients with hypertension. We hypothesised that plasma levels of biomarkers could differentiate between different degrees of hypertension severity.Healthy controls had lower Interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) levels, but higher uromodulin compared to patients with hypertension. Except for osteopontin (OPN), all biomarkers showed significant trends in median biomarker levels across study groups. However, as hypertension severity increased, the median plasma OPN levels also rose. None of the biomarker could consistently differentiate the hypertension severity groups after considering established risk factors. However, OPN may be an early biomarker for kidney damage in hypertension.What is the impact? Biomarkers for early detection of organ damage in hypertension may guide targeted treatment. Plasma OPN may have potential to identify those at risk for hypertensive kidney damage. However, the studied biomarkers lack consistent discrimination across hypertension severity levels.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / complications
  • Kidney
  • Kidney Diseases*


  • Biomarkers