Plasma Trough Concentrations of Antihypertensive Drugs for the Assessment of Treatment Adherence

Originally published 30 Nov 2020 | Hypertension

Getty Images 988802790


Biochemical drug screening by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in plasma is an accurate method for the quantification of plasma concentrations of antihypertensive medications in patients with hypertension. Trough concentrations could possibly be used as drug-specific cutoff values in the biochemical assessment of (non-)adherence. We performed a literature review and meta-analysis of pharmacokinetic studies to determine plasma trough concentrations of amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, and valsartan. PubMed was searched for pharmacokinetic studies up to September 2020. Eligible studies reported steady-state mean trough concentration and their variance. Pooled trough concentrations were estimated using a three-level random effects meta-analytic model. Moderator analyses were performed to explore sources of heterogeneity. One thousand three hundred eighteen potentially relevant articles were identified of which 45 were eligible for inclusion. The pooled mean trough concentration was 9.2 ng/mL (95% CI, 7.5–10.8) for amlodipine, 41.0 ng/mL (95% CI, 17.4–64.7) for hydrochlorothiazide, and 352.9 ng/mL (95% CI, 243.5–462.3) for valsartan. Substantial heterogeneity was present for all 3 pooled estimates. Moderator analyses identified dosage as a significant moderator for the pooled trough concentration of amlodipine (β1=0.9; P<0.05), mean age, and mean body weight for the mean trough concentration of hydrochlorothiazide (β1=2.2, P<0.05, respectively, β1=−4.0, P<0.05) and no significant moderators for valsartan. Plasma trough concentrations of amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, and valsartan, measured with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, are highly heterogeneous over the different studies. Use of the pooled trough concentration as a cutoff in the biochemical assessment of adherence can result in inaccurate diagnosis of (non-)adherence, which may seriously harm the patient-physician relationship, and is therefore not recommended.

The full text of this article can be found at: