Plasmin and its precursor, plasminogen, are detectable in urine from patients with glomerular disease. Urinary plasmin(ogen) levels correlate with blood pressure (BP) and may contribute to renal Na + retention by activating the epithelial Na + channel (ENaC). In a longitudinal nested-cohort study, we asked whether urinary plasmin(ogen) levels predict subsequent increase in BP, incident hypertension, or mortality in subjects with type I diabetes, who often develop proteinuria.
The Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications (EDC) study followed up type I diabetic subjects for 25 years. Urine specimens from 70 subjects with a spectrum of baseline urinary albumin levels were examined. Outcomes included increased BP after 2 years (≥1 SD over baseline systolic or diastolic BP, examined via logistic regression), 25-year incident hypertension (≥140/90 mm Hg or initiating BP-lowering medications), and all-cause or cardiovascular mortality, examined using Cox regression.
Subjects experiencing a 2-year increase in BP had higher baseline urinary plasmin(ogen)/creatinine levels (uPl/Cr) than other subjects ( P = 0.04); the difference in baseline urinary albumin/creatinine levels (uAlb/Cr) was similar ( P = 0.07). Baseline uPl/Cr was associated with increased 25-year hypertension incidence (hazard ratio = 2.05, P = 0.001), all-cause mortality (HR = 2.05, P = 0.01) and cardiovascular mortality (HR = 3.30, P = 0.005), although not independent of uAlb/Cr.
This is the first long-term prospective study addressing clinical outcomes associated with increased urinary plasmin(ogen). Findings are consistent with a role for plasmin(ogen) in promoting increased BP, but also demonstrate the difficulty in distinguishing effects due to plasmin(ogen) from those of albuminuria.