Erythrocyte calpain activity and left ventricular mass in essential hypertension

Paola Stella, Laura Soldati, Daniele Ciurlino, Giuseppe Vezzoli, Daniele Cusi, Giuseppe Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Calpains are cytoplasmic proteases widely distributed among eucaryotic cells. Low levels of calpain activity were found in hypertrophic hearts from hypertensive rats, but its role in hypertrophic hearts from human hypertensives is unknown. Therefore, calpain activity was investigated in erythrocytes from essential hypertensive patients in relation to their left ventricular mass. Objective. To study the role of calpain activity in the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in human essential hypertension. Methods. A total of 115 hypertensives (72 untreated and 43 with treatment interrupted for at least 4 months) were included in the study. Calpain I activity was measured in human erythrocytes and LVH was measured as left ventricular mass index (LVMI) by M-mode echocardiography. Results. Values are given as mean ± SEM. The hypertensives (97 men and 18 women) were 43.5 ± 0.9 years old with mild to moderate levels of hypertension (systolic/diastolic blood pressure of 147.9 ± 1.4/98.7 ± 0.9 mmHg) and relatively recent LVH onset (3.5 ± 0.5 years). An inverse relation between LVMI and erythrocytic calpain activity was present in all (P = 0.0023, R2 = 7.9%). This relation was still present considering only untreated hypertensives (P = 0.008; R2 = 9.7%), but was lost in the 43 previously treated hypertensives. Moreover, in the untreated hypertensives, after excluding the possible confounding effects of sex, age, body mass index, blood pressure and duration of hypertension, a stepwise regression showed that only two variables remained significantly related to LVMI: calpain (F = 6.23) and mean arterial pressure (F = 4.689). No relations were found between LVMI and calpastatin activity either in the whole population, or in treated or untreated hypertensives. Conclusions. If we assume that the level of erythrocyte calpain activity mirrors the level in cardiomyocytes, these data seem to suggest that increased protein degradation by calpain may prevent the development of LVH in hypertensive patients. This effect is independent of the duration and severity of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1775-1778
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number12 II
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • Calpain
  • Calpastatin
  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Erythrocytes
  • Hypertension
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy
  • Left ventricular mass index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine


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