Researchers identify target to help protect kidney patients' heart health

December 13, 2012

HighlightsWashington, DC (December 13, 2012) -- Blocking the receptor for proteins that constrict blood vessels reduces markers of heart-related problems in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings might be used to improve the health of patients with CKD, who most often die from cardiovascular disease.

Patients with CKD have an increased risk of developing heart problems, in part because kidney disease can cause their arteries to stiffen. This is thought to occur due to an impaired availability of a vasodilator--nitric oxide (NO)--in the blood. The protein endothelin-1 is a vasoconstrictor and opposes the actions of NO, suggesting that drugs that block its effects may help protect CKD patients' heart health. One such drug is called sitaxentan, which blocks endothelin-1's receptor (called the ETA receptor).

Neeraj Dhaun, MD, PhD (University of Edinburgh, in Scotland) and his colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind study in 27 patients with CKD to compare the effects of sitaxentan, nifedipine (a blood vessel relaxant), and placebo on kidney function, blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and various heart-related markers.

Among the major findings after six weeks of treatment:"The current study shows, for the first time, that ETA receptor antagonism selectively lowers novel cardiovascular risk factors in patients with kidney disease independent of blood pressure. These effects were seen in patients already receiving optimal treatment," said Dr. Dhaun. "These findings suggest a potential role for ETA receptor antagonism in conferring additional longer-term cardiovascular and renal benefits in patients with kidney disease," he added.
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Study co-authors include: Vanessa Melville, RN, Scott Blackwell, MD, Dinesh Talwar, PhD, Neil Johnston, MSc, Jane Goddard, MD, PhD, and David Webb, MD, FRCP.

Disclosures: This study was funded by Encysive Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Drs. Dhaun, Goddard, and Webb have all received research grants from Pfizer. Drs. Dhaun and Goddard have held academic research fellowships funded by educational grants from Pfizer. Drs. Goddard and Webb have acted as Consultants to Pfizer.

Sitaxentan has been voluntarily withdrawn by Pfizer, Ltd due to unacceptable side effects. However, the findings of this study are likely to be representative of the effects of the class of selective endothelin A receptor antagonists.

The article, entitled "Endothelin-A Receptor Antagonism Modifies Cardiovascular Risk Factors in CKD," will appear online on at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ December 13, 2012, doi: 10.1681/2012040355.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Founded in 1966, and with more than 13,500 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

American Society of Nephrology

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