Background: Hypertension is a common and serious complication of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), often occurring early in the disease before the renal function starts to decrease. The pathogenesis of this early hypertension is controversial.
Objective: To review studies on the pathogenesis of early and late hypertension in ADPKD.
Study selection: Studies on ADPKD and hypertension were retrieved from Medline from the last 20 years, with an emphasis on the last 10 years. These studies, together with selected published abstracts from recent hypertension and nephrology meetings, were reviewed critically.
Results: Cyst growth, renal handling of sodium, activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, volume expansion, an elevated plasma volume, and increased plasma atrial natriuretic peptide and plasma endothelin levels have all been found to be associated with hypertension in ADPKD. In some studies an inappropriate activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system that could be related to cyst growth and intrarenal ischemia was found. An increase in renal vascular resistance has been demonstrated and might be caused by intrarenal release of angiotensin II. Interestingly, the protective effect of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors on the renal function could not be demonstrated in ADPKD patients with a moderately decreased renal function. The importance, if any, of endothelial vasodilatory factors is not known. Sympathetic nervous activity seems to be increased in ADPKD, but the importance of this for the blood pressure level is not known.
Conclusion: The pathogenesis of hypertension in ADPKD is complex and likely to be dependent on the interaction of hemodynamic, endocrine and neurogenic factors.