Essential hypertension is associated with enhanced LDL oxidation and impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation. The antioxidant status is linked to the nitric oxide (NO) pathway. Sulfhydryl angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors inhibit oxidative stress and atherogenesis in experimental models; therefore we tested whether this beneficial antioxidant activity could be also clinically relevant in patients with essential hypertension.Methods
Plasma LDL oxidizability was investigated initially in untreated normocholesterolemic patients with moderate essential hypertension without clinically evident target organ damage (n = 96) and in control normotensive subjects (n = 46). Patients were then randomly assigned into two age- and sex-matched groups to receive the new sulfhydryl ACE inhibitor zofenopril (15 to 30 mg/d; n = 48) or enalapril (20 mg/d, n = 48). LDL oxidizability was evaluated (generation of malondialdehyde, MDA) and systemic oxidative stress was evaluated by isoprostanes (8-isoPGF2α). Asymmetrical dimethyl-L-arginine (ADMA), a competitive inhibitor of endothelial NO synthase, and plasma nitrite and nitrates (NOx) were also measured.Results
LDL from hypertensive subjects had enhanced susceptibility to oxidation in vitro compared with that in control subjects (P < .05). Similarly, isoprostanes were significantly increased (P < .01) in hypertensive subjects versus control subjects. After 12-week treatment, MDA levels were significantly reduced by zofenopril (P < .05) but not enalapril treatment (P = not significant). Isoprostanes were normalized after zofenopril treatment (P < .03), whereas enalapril was ineffective. After treatment with both ACE inhibitors, plasma NOx concentrations were significantly reduced (P < .05). Similarly, hypertension increased ADMA concentration compared with the normotensive state, whereas ACE inihibition elicited a significant decrease. However, the reduction of ADMA concentration was significantly higher in patients receiving sulfhydryl ACE inhibition (P < .05 vs enalapril).Conclusions
The sulfhydryl ACE inhibitor zofenopril reduces oxidative stress and improves the NO pathway in patients with essential hypertension. If confirmed in a large multicenter clinical trial, our data suggest a possible vasculoprotective effect of the compound in retarding vascular dysfunction and atherogenesis that often develops rapidly in hypertensive patients.