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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of trandolapril, an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, on blood pressure, forearm blood flow and insulin sensitivity in comparison with nifedipine gastrointestinal therapeutic system.This is a multicentre, two-way parallel-group, open-label comparative study in 90 overweight hypertensive patients, who were randomly assigned to treatment for 8 weeks with either trandolapril or nifedipine. At baseline and after treatment, all patients underwent an oral glucose tolerance test, an evaluation of their metabolic profiles and a euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp test. In a subgroup of 18 patients, a forearm study was carried out.Blood pressure fell by the second week of treatment and remained significantly reduced compared with baseline in both treatment groups. Plasma triglyceride levels were also significantly reduced after trandolapril therapy, but no significant changes occurred in the other metabolic parameters during treatment with either drug. During the euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp, whole-body glucose use was similar in the two treatment groups at baseline, and a moderate but statistically significant increase in insulin sensitivity was observed after trandolapril treatment (trandolapril: 5.0 ± 0.2 versus 4.5 ± 0.2 mg/kg per min; nifedipine: 4.1 ± 0.3 versus 4.2 ± 0.3 mg/kg per min; P < 0.05, versus baseline and trandolapril versus nifedipine treatment). Skeletal muscle glucose uptake was significantly higher after trandolapril than after nifedipine therapy (5.0 ± 0.7 and 3.0 ± 0.4 mg/min, respectively; P < 0.01). As forearm blood flow was similar in the two treatment groups at baseline and was unchanged after 8 weeks of therapy, skeletal muscle glucose extraction was significantly greater in the ACE inhibitor treated-group than in the nifedipine comparative group (trandolapril: baseline 21 ± 2, treatment 24 ± 3 mg/dl; nifedipine: baseline 18 ± 3, treatment 16 ± 2 mg/dl; P < 0.05, trandolapril versus nifedipine treatment).During short-term treatment, ACE inhibition with trandolapril was able to moderately improve insulin sensitivity, in comparison with calcium blockade, and this effect appeared to be independent of the haemodynamic action of the drug.