Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system blockers are known to reduce hypertrophy of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in hypertensive cases. However, we have reported marked proliferative changes of renal afferent arteriolar SMCs in rats induced by a long-term administration of angiotensin II type 1 receptor blockers (ARBs) and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI). In this study, we examined the morphological changes of afferent arteriolar walls in human kidneys with or without ARBs/ACEIs. Forty-four wedge resections were taken from patients aged 45–74 years from 92 nephrectomized kidneys due to malignancy at Toho University Omori Medical Center between 2013 and 2016. They were divided into the following three groups: 18 hypertensive patients treated with antihypertensive agents including ARBs or ACEIs (the HTARB group), 6 hypertensive patients treated with calcium channel blockers without ARBs/ACEIs (the HTCCB group), and 20 normotensive patients (the normotensive group) as a control. Cases expecting vascular changes such as diabetes were excluded. In each case renal arterioles were measured as the ratio of inner/outer arteriolar diameter, and pathologists estimated morphological abnormal changes, scoring each specimen independently. The ratio in the HTARB group was 0.39 ± 0.05 (mean ± SD), and was significantly the lowest among the three groups (0.46 ± 0.02 in the HTCCB, 0.53 ± 0.02 in the normotensive group; = 0.0107 vs. HTCCB, = 0.00001 vs. normotensive). The ratio in the three groups significantly correlated with the estimated glomerular filtration rate ( = 0.4915, < 0.0007). The afferent arteriolar SMCs in the HTARB group frequently showed marked proliferative and irregular changes. The score of SMC abnormalities estimated regarding the proliferation, irregularity of the arrangement, and size in hilar afferent arteriolar SMCs was highest in the HTARB group and showed statistical significance ( = 0.0088, = 0.00001, and = 0.025 versus other two groups). We consider that these morphological changes in arterioles are induced by ARBs/ACEIs. These changes could induce an important suppression of glomerular hyperfiltration and could lead to glomerular ischemia. However, the clinical consequences of these morphological changes in correlation with ARBs/ACEIs were not sufficiently clear and require further analysis. We should consider renal arteriolar morphological changes when using ARBs/ACEIs.
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