Pharmacokinetics of captopril in healthy subjects and in patients with cardiovascular diseases

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1988 Apr;14(4):241-59. doi: 10.2165/00003088-198814040-00002.


Captopril, the first orally active inhibitor of angiotensin-converting enzyme, is used widely in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. The pharmacokinetics of this agent have been studied extensively in healthy subjects and in patients with hypertension, congestive heart failure, and chronic renal failure. Captopril contains a sulphydryl group and binds readily to albumin and other plasma proteins. The drug also forms mixed disulphides with endogenous thiol-containing compounds (cysteine, glutathione), as well as the disulphide dimer of the parent compound. These components in blood and urine are measured collectively as total captopril. Because of the reversibility of the formation of these inactive disulphides, total captopril may serve as a reservoir of the pharmacologically active moiety, and thus contribute to a duration of action longer than that predicted by blood concentrations of unchanged captopril. To measure free or unchanged captopril concentrations, a chemical stabiliser must be added to the biological samples to prevent the formation of captopril disulphides ex vivo. In healthy subjects given captopril intravenously, the body clearance of captopril and steady-state volume of distribution were about 0.7 L/h/kg and 0.8 L/kg, respectively. The elimination half-life of unchanged captopril was approximately 2 hours. The primary route of elimination of captopril is the kidney. The renal clearance of unchanged captopril exceeds the glomerular filtration rate, due to active tubular secretion of the drug. In healthy subjects, about 70 to 75% of an oral dose is absorbed and the bioavailability of captopril is approximately 65%. Peak blood concentrations are reached about 45 to 60 minutes after oral administration. The bioavailability of captopril is not altered by age or concomitant medications including diuretics, procainamide, allopurinol, cimetidine or digoxin. However, the co-administration of food or antacids, or probenecid with captopril has been shown to diminish the bioavailability of the latter and decrease its clearance, respectively. The decreased bioavailability of captopril when taken with meals does not significantly alter clinical responses to the drug. Over a wide range of oral (10 to 150 mg) and intravenous doses (2.5 to 10 mg) captopril had linear kinetics in healthy volunteers. In healthy subjects with normal renal function and patients with congestive heart failure given captopril 3 times daily, blood concentrations of total captopril accumulated, whereas those of unchanged captopril did not. Severe renal insufficiency was associated with an accumulation of both unchanged and total captopril.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Captopril / administration & dosage
  • Captopril / metabolism
  • Captopril / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Drug Interactions
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / metabolism*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kinetics


  • Captopril