The cardiovascular system is regulated by hemodynamic and neurohumoral mechanisms. These regulatory systems play a key role in modulating cardiac function, vascular tone, and structure. Although neurohumoral systems are essential in vascular homeostasis, they become maladaptive in disease states such as hypertension, coronary disease, and heart failure. The clinical success of ACE inhibitors has led to efforts to block other humoral systems. Neutral endopeptidase (NEP) is an endothelial cell surface zinc metallopeptidase with similar structure and catalytic site. NEP is the major enzymatic pathway for degradation of natriuretic peptides, a secondary enzymatic pathway for degradation of kinins, and adrenomedullin. The natriuretic peptides can be viewed as endogenous inhibitors of the renin angiotensin system. Inhibition of NEP increases levels of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) of myocardial cell origin, and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) of endothelial cell origin as well as bradykinin and adrenomedullin. By simultaneously inhibiting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and potentiating the natriuretic peptide and kinin systems, vasopeptidase inhibitors reduce vasoconstriction, enhance vasodilation, improve sodium/water balance, and, in turn, decrease peripheral vascular resistance and blood pressure and improve local blood flow. Within the blood vessel wall, this leads to a reduction of vasoconstrictor and proliferative mediators such as angiotensin II and increased local levels of bradykinin (and, in turn, nitric oxide) and natriuretic peptides. Preliminary clinical experiences with vasopeptidase inhibitors are encouraging. Thus, the combined inhibition of ACE and neutral endopeptidase is a new and promising approach to treat patients with hypertension, atherosclerosis, or heart failure.
- Heart failure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)