Background and objectives: Inhibition of brain aminopeptidase A (APA), which converts angiotensin II into angiotensin III, has emerged as a novel antihypertensive treatment, as demonstrated in several experimental animal models. QGC001 (originally named RB150) is a prodrug of the specific and selective APA inhibitor EC33, and as such it is the prototype of a new class of centrally acting antihypertensive agents. Given by the oral route in hypertensive rats, it enters the brain and generates EC33, which blocks the brain renin-angiotensin system activity and normalises blood pressure. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic effects of QGC001 in humans.
Design and methods: Fifty-six healthy male volunteers were randomly assigned to receive in double-blind and fasted conditions single oral doses of 10, 50, 125, 250, 500, 750, 1,000 and 1,250 mg of QGC001 (n = 6/dose) or placebo (n = 2/dose). We measured plasma and urine concentrations of both QGC001 and EC33 by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, plasma renin concentrations (PRC), plasma and free urine aldosterone (PAldo and UAldo), plasma copeptine (PCop), and plasma and urine cortisol (PCort and UCort) concentrations, and supine systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate (HR) at various time points.
Results: All doses of QGC001 were clinically and biologically well-tolerated. Peak plasma concentrations (Cmax) of QGC001 and EC33 increased linearly with the dose, with a median time to reach Cmax (tmax) of 1.5 h for QGC001 and 3.0 h for EC33. The median plasma elimination half-life of QGC001 was 1.6 h consistently throughout doses. Urinary excretion of QGC001 and EC33 was below 2% of the administered dose. When compared with placebo, QGC001 did not significantly change PRC, PAldo, UAldo, PCop, PCort or UCort. No significant change was observed for supine HR, SBP and DBP in any treatment group.
Conclusion: Single oral administration of QGC001 up to 1,250 mg in healthy volunteers was well-tolerated. Following oral administration, QGC001 is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and converted partially into its active metabolite EC33 in plasma. As in animal experiments, in normotensive subjects QGC001 had no effect on the systemic renin-angiotensin-aldosterone parameters and on PCop concentrations, a marker of vasopressin release. In normotensive subjects, a single dose of QCG001 had no effect on SBP, DBP or HR. These data support further evaluation of multiple oral doses of QGC001 in human volunteers and its clinical efficacy in hypertensive patients.