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The renin–angiotensin system plays an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetes-induced vascular and renal complications. Vasopeptidase inhibitors simultaneously inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and neutral endopeptidase.To compare the effectiveness of vasopeptidase inhibition and ACE inhibition in preventing hypertension, endothelial dysfunction and diabetic nephropathy in spontaneously diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats.Eight-week-old GK rats received omapatrilat (40 mg/kg) or enalapril (30 mg/kg) for 12 weeks, either during a normal-sodium or high-sodium diet (7% w/w). Blood pressure, arterial functions and renal morphology were determined.Blood pressure and albuminuria were increased in GK rats compared to non-diabetic Wistar controls. Endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation in response to acetylcholine (ACh) and endothelium-independent vascular relaxation in response to sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were impaired in GK rats. Experiments with Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), diclofenac, and L-NAME + diclofenac suggested that cyclooxygenase and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor components of endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation were also impaired. A high-sodium diet aggravated hypertension and diabetes-induced vascular and renal complications. Omapatrilat and enalapril normalized blood pressure and albuminuria during the normal-sodium diet, and effectively ameliorated diabetes-induced renal complications also during the high-sodium diet. However, omapatrilat improved endothelium-dependent relaxation to ACh to a greater extent (85 ± 5%) than enalapril (68 ± 6%, P < 0.05). Diclofenac pre-incubation eliminated this difference between omapatrilat and enalapril in ACh-induced vascular relaxation, suggesting that it was mediated, at least in part, via the cyclooxygenase pathway.Despite comparable blood pressure-lowering and renoprotective properties, omapatrilat may be more effective in preventing vascular dysfunction during diabetes compared to enalapril in GK rats.