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.