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      Advances in the Medical Treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension

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          Abstract

          Increased pulmonary precapillary vascular resistance due to vasoconstriction and vasoproliferative processes is the basic pathophysiological mechanism in the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH). With the exception of pulmonary venous hypertension, where the primary cause of PH is left ventricular failure or mitral valvular disease, all the other PH categories will benefit to a greater or lesser extent from pulmonary vasodilator and antivasoproliferative therapy. Today, for this purpose, in addition to intravenous prostacyclin (epoprostenol), which is restricted to severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (NYHA class IV and late class III), other therapeutic options such as treatment with more stable prostacyclin analogs (oral beraprost, aerosolized iloprost), endothelin-receptor antagonists (bosentan) or phosphodiesterase inhibitors (sildenafil) are also available and these are especially useful for the treatment of the early stages of the disease. The recent progress in medical therapy has markedly increased the life expectancy in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and substantially improved their quality of life. Chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients show higher endothelin-1 (ET-1) activity in comparison to healthy individuals and there is evidence that the increase of pulmonary vascular resistance in these patients is at least in part mediated by ET-1. Recent data show good results after PH therapy with the endothelin-receptor antagonist bosentan in HD patients. Also prostacyclin and its analogs, as well as phosphodiesterase inhibitors, can be useful for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic renal failure.

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          Most cited references 77

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          A comparison of continuous intravenous epoprostenol (prostacyclin) with conventional therapy for primary pulmonary hypertension.

          Primary pulmonary hypertension is a progressive disease for which no treatment has been shown in a prospective, randomized trial to improve survival. We conducted a 12-week prospective, randomized, multicenter open trial comparing the effects of the continuous intravenous infusion of epoprostenol (formerly called prostacyclin) plus conventional therapy with those of conventional therapy alone in 81 patients with severe primary pulmonary hypertension (New York Heart Association functional class III or IV). Exercise capacity was improved in the 41 patients treated with epoprostenol (median distance walked in six minutes, 362 m at 12 weeks vs. 315 m at base line), but it decreased in the 40 patients treated with conventional therapy alone (204 m at 12 weeks vs. 270 m at base line; P < 0.002 for the comparison of the treatment groups). Indexes of the quality of life were improved only in the epoprostenol group (P < 0.01). Hemodynamics improved at 12 weeks in the epoprostenol-treated patients. The changes in mean pulmonary-artery pressure for the epoprostenol and control groups were -8 percent and +3 percent, respectively (difference in mean change, -6.7 mm Hg; 95 percent confidence interval, -10.7 to -2.6 mm Hg; P < 0.002), and the mean changes in pulmonary vascular resistance for the epoprostenol and control groups were -21 percent and +9 percent, respectively (difference in mean change, -4.9 mm Hg/liter/min; 95 percent confidence interval, -7.6 to -2.3 mm Hg/liter/min; P < 0.001). Eight patients died during the study, all of whom had been randomly assigned to conventional therapy (P = 0.003). Serious complications included four episodes of catheter-related sepsis and one thrombotic event. As compared with conventional therapy, the continuous intravenous infusion of epoprostenol produced symptomatic and hemodynamic improvement, as well as improved survival in patients with severe primary pulmonary hypertension.
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            Expression of endothelin-1 in the lungs of patients with pulmonary hypertension.

            Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by an increase in vascular tone or an abnormal proliferation of muscle cells in the walls of small pulmonary arteries. Endothelin-1 is a potent endothelium-derived vasoconstrictor peptide with important mitogenic properties. It has therefore been suggested that endothelin-1 may contribute to increases in pulmonary arterial tone or smooth-muscle proliferation in patients with pulmonary hypertension. We studied the sites and magnitude of endothelin-1 production in the lungs of patients with various causes of pulmonary hypertension. We studied the distribution of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity (by immunocytochemical analysis) and endothelin-1 messenger RNA (by in situ hybridization) in lung specimens from 15 control subjects, 11 patients with plexogenic pulmonary arteriopathy (grades 4 through 6), and 17 patients with secondary pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary arteriopathy of grades 1 through 3. In the controls, endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity was rarely seen in vascular endothelial cells. In the patients with pulmonary hypertension, endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity was abundant, predominantly in endothelial cells of pulmonary arteries with medial thickening and intimal fibrosis. Likewise, endothelin-1 messenger RNA was increased in the patients with pulmonary hypertension and was expressed primarily at sites of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity. There was a strong correlation between the intensity of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity and pulmonary vascular resistance in the patients with plexogenic pulmonary arteriopathy, but not in those with secondary pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is associated with the increased expression of endothelin-1 in vascular endothelial cells, suggesting that the local production of endothelin-1 may contribute to the vascular abnormalities associated with this disorder.
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              Effects of the dual endothelin-receptor antagonist bosentan in patients with pulmonary hypertension: a randomised placebo-controlled study.

              Endothelin 1, a powerful endogenous vasoconstrictor and mitogen, might be a cause of pulmonary hypertension. We describe the efficacy and safety of bosentan, a dual endothelin-receptor antagonist that can be taken orally, in patients with severe pulmonary hypertension. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 32 patients with pulmonary hypertension (primary or associated with scleroderma) were randomly assigned to bosentan (62.5mg taken twice daily for 4 weeks then 125 mg twice daily) or placebo for a minimum of 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was change in exercise capacity. Secondary endpoints included changes in cardiopulmonary haemodynamics, Borg dyspnoea index, WHO functional class, and withdrawal due to clinical worsening. Analysis was by intention to treat. In patients given bosentan, the distance walked in 6 min improved by 70 m at 12 weeks compared with baseline, whereas it worsened by 6 m in those on placebo (difference 76 m [95% CI 12-139], p=0.021). The improvement was maintained for at least 20 weeks. The cardiac index was 1.0 L min(-1) m(-2) (95% CI 0.6-1.4, p<0.0001) greater in patients given bosentan than in those given placebo. Pulmonary vascular resistance decreased by 223 dyn s cm(-)(5) with bosentan, but increased by 191 dyn s cm(-5) with placebo (difference -415 [-608 to -221], p=0.0002). Patients given bosentan had a reduced Borg dyspnoea index and an improved WHO functional class. All three withdrawals from clinical worsening were in the placebo group (p=0.033). The number and nature of adverse events did not differ between the two groups. Bosentan increases exercise capacity and improves haemodynamics in patients with pulmonary hypertension, suggesting that endothelin has an important role in pulmonary hypertension.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                KBR
                Kidney Blood Press Res
                10.1159/issn.1420-4096
                Kidney and Blood Pressure Research
                S. Karger AG
                978-3-8055-8058-8
                978-3-318-01305-4
                1420-4096
                1423-0143
                2005
                March 2006
                20 March 2006
                : 28
                : 5-6
                : 311-324
                Affiliations
                Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Berlin, Germany
                Article
                90186 Kidney Blood Press Res 2005;28:311–324
                10.1159/000090186
                16534227
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, References: 140, Pages: 14
                Product
                Self URI (application/pdf): https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/90186
                Categories
                Current Issues in Chronic Renal Failure

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