Author(s): Sealey JE
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Abstract Sensitivity and accuracy are essential features of an assay of plasma renin activity (PRA) because the normal concentration of PRA is only 1 pmol/L, and subnormal concentrations have diagnostic relevance. Conditions for blood collection need to be standardized but the conditions are not difficult for outpatients. For routine diagnostic purposes blood should be collected from ambulatory (ideally, untreated) patients on moderate sodium intake. To avoid irreversible cryoactivation of plasma prorenin (which is present in 10-fold greater concentrations than renin), samples should be processed at room temperature and stored completely frozen. Cryoactivation occurs when plasma is liquid at temperatures less than 6 degrees C. PRA is commonly measured with an enzyme kinetic assay in which angiotensin I (Ang I) is formed by the reaction of plasma renin with endogenous renin substrate (angiotensinogen). The Ang I so formed is measured by RIA; results are expressed as an hourly rate (micrograms/L formed per hour). This method, which is provided by most commercial kits, has the potential for unlimited sensitivity because the step for Ang I generation can be prolonged as long as necessary, so that enough Ang I forms to be measured accurately. Unfortunately, that sensitivity is not always exploited. Dilution of plasma during pH adjustment should be kept to a minimum. The Ang I generation step should last at least 3 h. The step should last 18 h for samples with PRA less than 1.0 micrograms/L per hour, to eliminate the errors inherent in the measurement and subtraction of immunoreactive Ang I in the untreated plasma (blank subtraction). These changes actually simplify PRA measurements because they eliminate the need for ice in the clinic and reduce by almost half the number of samples to be assayed by RIA. I also describe the method for measurement of plasma prorenin, which may be an important marker for patients with diabetes mellitus who subsequently develop vascular complications.
This article was published in Clin Chem
and referenced in Journal of Hypertension: Open Access