Background: Experimental data in humans on the contribution of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II type 1 receptor blockers to the nitric oxide system of the renal vasculature are inconsistent. Enalapril and eprosartan, alone and in combination, were used to determine their short-term effects on the renal nitric oxide system and renal hemodynamics of human subjects with essential hypertension.
Methods: Twenty male, white patients (27 +/- 1 years) with mild essential hypertension (143 +/- 11/95 +/- 6 mm Hg) were included in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, fourfold cross-over study with placebo, enalapril (20 mg/day), eprosartan (600 mg/day), or combination of both drugs (10 and 300 mg/day, respectively) each over a one week period followed by a two-week washout phase. After each study phase the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and renal plasma flow (RPF) were determined. Basal nitric oxide synthesis of the renal vasculature was assessed by the decrease in RPF after inhibition of nitric oxide synthase with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA; 4.25 mg/kg).
Results: After one week of therapy, the combination therapy decreased casual blood pressure by 5 +/- 2/3 +/- 1 mm Hg versus placebo (P < 0.01). Neither enalapril alone (-2 +/- 2/1 +/- 2 mm Hg, NS vs. placebo) nor eprosartan alone (-1 +/- 1/0 +/- 2 mm Hg, NS vs. placebo) had a clear-cut significant effect on casual blood pressure. In the combination phase, RPF increased by 123 +/- 36 mL/min (P < 0.01). Neither enalapril alone (+59 +/- 46 mL/min, P = 0.21) nor eprosartan alone (+113 +/- 51 mL/min, P = 0.06) had a clear-cut significant effect on RPF. Changes of RPF induced by treatment correlated with the L-NMMA induced decrease in RPF in the combination (r = 0.70, P < 0.01) and eprosartan phase (r = 0.86, P < 0.001), but not in the enalapril phase (r = -0.44, P = 0.10). Renal vascular resistance was reduced by each active treatment with the most prominent reduction in the combination phase. GFR was unaffected by any treatment.
Conclusions: In contrast to the effects of either substance alone, a combination of half the dose of eprosartan with half the dose of enalapril had a prominent effect on renal perfusion. The effects of eprosartan on RPF are mediated, at least in part, by an increased bioavailability of nitric oxide in the renal vasculature.