Background: Plasma levels of the vasoconstrictor peptide endothelin (ET) are increased in chronic heart failure (CHF), and ET levels are a major predictor of mortality in this disease. Thus, ET may play a deleterious role in CHF. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of chronic treatment with the ET receptor antagonist bosentan in a rat model of CHF.
Methods and results: Rats were subjected to coronary artery ligation and were treated for 2 or 9 months with placebo or bosentan (30 or 100 mg x kg(-1) x d(-1)). Bosentan 100 mg x kg(-1) markedly increased survival (after 9 months: untreated, 47%; bosentan, 65%; P<.01). Throughout the 9-month treatment period, bosentan significantly reduced arterial pressure and heart rate. After 2 or 9 months of treatment, the ET antagonist reduced central venous pressure and left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic pressure as well as plasma catecholamines, urinary cGMP, and LV ventricular collagen density. Bosentan also reduced LV dilatation (evidenced at 2 months by a shift in the pressure/volume relationship ex vivo). Echocardiographic studies performed after 2 months showed that the ET antagonist reduced hypertrophy and increased contractility of the noninfarcted LV wall. The lower dose of bosentan (30 mg x kg(-1)), which had no major hemodynamic or structural effects, also had no effect on survival.
Conclusions: Long-term treatment with an ET antagonist markedly increases survival in this rat model of CHF. This increase in survival is associated with decreases in both preload and afterload and an increase in cardiac output as well as decreased LV hypertrophy, LV dilatation, and cardiac fibrosis. Thus, chronic treatment with ET antagonists such as bosentan might be beneficial in human CHF and might increase long-term survival in this disease.