Background: The increased prostaglandin synthesis that might follow stimulation of the arachidonic acid cascade by angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibition (ACE-I) has been suggested to underlie the appearance of cough on ACE-I treatment. We investigated whether the prostanoid thromboxane was involved.
Methods: Nine patients with essential hypertension who had cough after enalapril 20 mg once a day (coughers) were treated, while continuing the enalapril, in a double-blind crossover study with placebo or picotamide, 600 mg twice daily. Picotamide is a platelet antiaggregant that acts through both inhibition of thromboxane synthase and thromboxane-receptor antagonism. Thirteen hypertensive patients with no history of ACE-I-induced cough were also treated with enalapril and served as controls. Cough frequency was measured by a visual analogue scale and by a daily cough diary. 24 h urinary recovery of 11-dehydro-thromboxane-B2 and 6-keto-PGF1 alpha were measured to assess any changes in endoperoxide metabolism during the study periods.
Findings: 11-dehydro-thromboxane-B2 (TXB2) recovery was significantly reduced by picotamide, which led to the disappearance of cough in eight patients within 72 h. Picotamide urinary recovery data suggested incomplete absorption in the non-responder. At baseline and after rechallenge with enalapril, 11-dehydro-TXB2 excretion was in the same range in the controls and in the coughers, but the latter showed significantly lower excretion of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha, and their ratio of 11-dehydroTXB2 to 6-keto-PGF1 alpha was twice that of the controls (1.40 [95% CI 0.86-1.95] vs 0.61 [0.37-0.84]).
Interpretation: A thromboxane antagonist is effective in ACE-I-induced cough. An imbalance between thromboxane and prostacyclin may represent a marker of patients susceptible to ACE-I-induced cough.