Plasma renin responses to mental stress and carotid intima-media thickness in black Africans: The SABPA study
Fourie, Catharina Maria Theresia
Huisman, Hugo Willem
Malan, Nicolaas Theodor
Schutte, Aletta Elisabeth
Van Rooyen, Johannes Marthinus
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The renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system can be activated by sympathetic nervous input and is thought to have an important role in the prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular risk in black Africans. We examined (1) the association between plasma renin responses to mental stress and a marker of sub-clinical atherosclerosis; and (2) associations between resting renin and 24-h ambulatory blood pressure. Participants were 143 urbanized black African men and women (43.1±7.7 years) drawn from a study of Sympathetic Activity and Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Africans (SABPA). After an overnight fast, participants completed the Stroop mental stress task. Blood samples were drawn during baseline and 10 min after the task to assess the concentration of active renin in plasma. Blood pressure assessments included continuous Finometer measures during the stress testing and 24-h ambulatory monitoring. Carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT) was measured using high-resolution ultrasound. Approximately 50% of the sample responded to the task with an increase in renin concentration. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed an association between the renin stress response and CIMT (β=0.024, 95% confidence interval, 0.004–0.043), after adjustment for conventional risk factors, blood pressure stress responses and basal levels of renin activity (R2 for model=0.37). In addition, resting renin was inversely associated with ambulatory blood pressure. In summary, heightened release of renin during a laboratory mental stressor was associated with a marker of sub-clinical atherosclerosis; thus, it may be a potential mechanism in explaining the increased burden of cardiovascular disease in urbanized black Africans.