In translational models of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), spironolactone improves cardiopulmonary hemodynamics by attenuating the adverse effects of hyperaldosteronism on endothelin type-B receptor function in pulmonary endothelial cells. This observation suggests that coupling spironolactone with inhibition of endothelin type-A receptor-mediated pulmonary vasoconstriction may be a useful treatment strategy for patients with PAH. We examined clinical data from patients randomized to placebo or the selective endothelin type-A receptor antagonist ambrisentan (10 mg/day) and in whom spironolactone use was reported during ARIES-1 and -2, which were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials assessing the effect of ambrisentan for 12 weeks on clinical outcome in PAH. From patients randomized to placebo (n = 132) or ambrisentan (n = 67), we identified concurrent spironolactone use in 21 (15.9%) and 10 (14.9%) patients, respectively. Compared with patients treated with ambrisentan alone (n = 57), therapy with ambrisentan + spironolactone improved change in 6-minute walk distance by 94% at week 12 (mean ± SE, +38.2 ± 8.1 vs +74.2 ± 27.4 m, p = 0.11), improved plasma B-type natriuretic peptide concentration by 1.7-fold (p = 0.08), and resulted in a 90% relative increase in the number of patients improving ≥1 World Health Organization functional class (p = 0.08). Progressive illness, PAH-associated hospitalizations, or death occurred as an end point for 5.3% of ambrisentan-treated patients; however, no patient treated with ambrisentan + spironolactone reached any of these end points. In conclusion, these pilot data suggest that coupling spironolactone and endothelin type-A receptor antagonism may be clinically beneficial in PAH. Prospective clinical trials are required to further characterize our findings.
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