Rolofylline, an adenosine A1-receptor antagonist, in acute heart failure

N Engl J Med. 2010 Oct 7;363(15):1419-28. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912613.


Background: Worsening renal function, which is associated with adverse outcomes, often develops in patients with acute heart failure. Experimental and clinical studies suggest that counterregulatory responses mediated by adenosine may be involved. We tested the hypothesis that the use of rolofylline, an adenosine A1-receptor antagonist, would improve dyspnea, reduce the risk of worsening renal function, and lead to a more favorable clinical course in patients with acute heart failure.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving patients hospitalized for acute heart failure with impaired renal function. Within 24 hours after presentation, 2033 patients were randomly assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, to receive daily intravenous rolofylline (30 mg) or placebo for up to 3 days. The primary end point was treatment success, treatment failure, or no change in the patient's clinical condition; this end point was defined according to survival, heart-failure status, and changes in renal function. Secondary end points were the post-treatment development of persistent renal impairment and the 60-day rate of death or readmission for cardiovascular or renal causes.

Results: Rolofylline, as compared with placebo, did not provide a benefit with respect to the primary end point (odds ratio, 0.92; 95% confidence interval, 0.78 to 1.09; P=0.35). Persistent renal impairment developed in 15.0% of patients in the rolofylline group and in 13.7% of patients in the placebo group (P=0.44). By 60 days, death or readmission for cardiovascular or renal causes had occurred in similar proportions of patients assigned to rolofylline and placebo (30.7% and 31.9%, respectively; P=0.86). Adverse-event rates were similar overall; however, only patients in the rolofylline group had seizures, a known potential adverse effect of A1-receptor antagonists.

Conclusions: Rolofylline did not have a favorable effect with respect to the primary clinical composite end point, nor did it improve renal function or 60-day outcomes. It does not show promise in the treatment of acute heart failure with renal dysfunction. (Funded by NovaCardia, a subsidiary of Merck; numbers, NCT00328692 and NCT00354458.).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adenosine A1 Receptor Antagonists*
  • Aged
  • Diuretics / adverse effects
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Readmission
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Treatment Failure
  • Xanthines / adverse effects
  • Xanthines / therapeutic use*


  • Adenosine A1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Diuretics
  • Xanthines
  • rolofylline

Associated data