Background: The purpose of this study was to assess whether long-term (8 years) inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) protects kidney function in normotensive type 1 diabetic patients with diabetic nephropathy.
Methods: We performed an open randomized follow-up study of normotensive type 1 diabetics with nephropathy either treated (N = 15) or not (N = 17) with captopril twice per day (average 74, range 12.5 to 125 mg/day). The main outcome measures were arterial blood pressure, albuminuria, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR; 51Cr-EDTA plasma clearance, twice yearly).
Results: Arterial blood pressure (mm Hg) was kept constant in the captopril group, at baseline (mean, SEM), 128/78 (3/2) and during follow-up 129/77 (4/1) but increased significantly in the control group from 127/79 (2/1) to 137/84 (5/2) (P < 0.01). Furthermore, 8 out of the 17 control subjects required treatment with blood pressure-lowering drugs because they developed hypertension. The fractional albumin clearance (x10-5) remained unchanged in the captopril group: baseline [10.8 (1.25) geometric mean and antilog (SEM)] during the eight years [11.8 (1.47)], while a significant rise occurred in control patients: 13.3 (1.23) to 26.2 (1.42) (P < 0.05). Baseline GFR was nearly identical: 111 (6) and 115 (4) mL/min/1.73 m2 in the captopril and control group, respectively. The median (range) rate of decline in GFR (mL/min/year) was 1.7 (10.7 to -2.0) in the captopril group versus 2.8 (17.7 to -2.6) in the control group (P = NS).
Conclusions: The beneficial effect of captopril in arresting the rise in systemic blood pressure and albuminuria is long lasting. A loss in GFR is minimal in most patients with diabetic nephropathy if normotension is sustained by prospective treatment with ACE inhibitors or restored by implementation of other antihypertensive medications with the development of hypertension.