Introduction: The evaluation of a new drug in normotensive volunteers provides important pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic information as long as the compound has a specific mechanism of action which can be evaluated in healthy subjects as well as in patients. The purpose of the present paper is to discuss the results that have been obtained in normal volunteers with the specific angiotensin II receptor antagonist, losartan potassium. DOSE-FINDING: Over the last few years, studies in normotensive subjects have demonstrated that the minimal dose of losartan that produces maximal efficacy is 40-80 mg. Losartan has a long duration of action and its ability to produce a sustained blockade of the renin-angiotensin system is due almost exclusively to the active metabolite E3174.
Hormonal effects: Angiotensin II receptor blockade with losartan induces an expected increase in plasma renin activity and plasma angiotensin II levels. A decrease in plasma aldosterone levels has been found only with a high dose of losartan (120 mg).
Renal and blood pressure effects: In normotensive subjects, losartan has little or no effect on blood pressure unless the subjects are markedly salt-depleted. Losartan causes no change in the glomerular filtration rate and either no modification or only a slight increase in renal blood flow. Losartan significantly increases urinary sodium excretion, however, and surprisingly produces a transient rise in urinary potassium excretion. Finally, losartan increases uric acid excretion and lowers plasma uric acid levels.
Conclusions: These results suggest that losartan is an effective angiotensin II receptor antagonist in normal subjects. Its safety and clinical efficacy in hypertensive patients will be addressed in large clinical trials.