Relaxin for the Treatment of Acute Decompensated Heart Failure: Pharmacology, Mechanisms of Action, and Clinical Evidence

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Acute heart failure remains a major cause of morbidity, and its treatment requires an increasing investment of the health care system. Whereas success in treating chronic heart failure has been achieved over the last decades, several pharmacological approaches for acute heart failure have been introduced but have failed to demonstrate any clinical benefit. Serelaxin is a recombinant human relaxin-2 vasoactive peptide that causes systemic and renal vasodilation. Data suggest that the clinical benefits may be attributable to a potential combination of multiple actions of serelaxin, including improving systemic, cardiac, and renal hemodynamics, and protecting cells and organs from damage via neurohormonal, anti-inflammatory, antiremodeling, antifibrotic, anti-ischemic, and proangiogenic effects. Recently, a number of clinical trials have demonstrated that serelaxin infusion over 48 hours improved dyspnea with more rapid relief of congestion during the first days after admission for heart failure. In addition, administration of serelaxin diminished cardiac, renal, and hepatic damage, which were associated with improved long-term mortality. Available data support substantial clinical benefits and significant promise for serelaxin as a treatment option for patients with acute heart failure. This review focuses on the pharmacology and mechanisms of action of serelaxin and provides a detailed discussion of the clinical evidence for this novel therapy in acute heart failure.

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