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This was a double-blind, randomized, two-center, active-controlled, prospective, parallel study designed to evaluate the effects of nebivolol at daily doses of 5 mg on lipid and carbohydrate metabolism and on blood pressure in comparison with atenolol at daily doses of 50 mg. Normometabolic subjects with mild-to-moderate essential hypertension were recruited for this study, which included a 4-week, single-blind placebo washout phase and a 12-week double-blind treatment phase. After 12 weeks of treatment, both drugs demonstrated a significant decrease from baseline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) apolipoprotein A-I (HDL-apoA-I) (nebivolol, P <.02; atenolol, P <.05). A significant reduction in HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) from baseline was also observed with nebivolol (P <.05). There were no significant differences between the drugs for these parameters, and the ratio low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)-to-HDL-C did not change significantly after 12 weeks of active treatment with nebivolol or atenolol. There were no significant changes in total cholesterol, HDL2-C, HDL3-C, LDL-C, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), total triglycerides, HDL-triglycerides (TG), LDL-TG, VLDL-TG, total apoB, LDL-B, VLDL-B (including the ratio LDL-C-to-LDL-apoB), or Lp(a) during treatment with both drugs. No significant differences in plasma apoA-I and apoC-III as well as in apoA-I-, C-III-containing lipoprotein particles (including the apoC-III ratio) were observed between the drugs, neither before nor after each active treatment. There were no significant differences between the drugs or within each treatment group in plasma glucose, insulin, or C-peptide concentrations after a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Mean clinic trough sitting systolic blood pressure (SBP)/diastolic blood pressure (DBP) significantly decreased from 150/98 mm Hg at baseline to 141/90 mm Hg at termination for nebivolol and from 160/99 mm Hg at baseline to 145/88 mm Hg at termination for atenolol. No significant between-treatment differences were observed for the mean clinic trough sitting SBP/DBP. Both drugs significantly increased the atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) N-terminal plasma levels, whereas no changes were observed in ANF C-terminal plasma concentrations. A significant decrease (P <.05) in the plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone levels was observed after administration of both drugs. A significant decrease (P <.05) in plasma cortisol levels was observed only after atenolol treatment. The incidence of adverse events reported during nebivolol treatment was comparable to that observed during atenolol treatment. Heart rate was significantly reduced by both drugs. There were no significant changes in hematology, biochemistry, or urinalysis studies. Neither nebivolol nor atenolol adversely affected lipid or carbohydrate metabolism in normometabolic hypertensive patients. Both treatments demonstrated adequate and similar antihypertensive effects and were well tolerated.