Advances in the treatment of heart failure may require manipulation of neurohumoral responses to cardiac impairment in addition to the established strategy of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition. Importantly, since new treatments are likely to be used in conjunction with ACE inhibition therapy, the effects of the combination of agents need to be assessed. Adrenomedullin (ADM) is a peptide with potent vasodilator and natriuretic actions. ADM and an ACE inhibitor (captopril) were administered for 3h both separately and together in eight sheep with heart failure. Both ADM and captopril alone reduced arterial pressure, left atrial pressure (greater with captopril) and peripheral resistance, and increased cardiac output (greater with ADM). Compared with either treatment separately, combined ADM+captopril produced directionally similar but significantly greater changes in all haemodynamic variables (particularly falls in blood pressure). ADM increased renal sodium and creatinine excretion and creatinine clearance, and maintained urine output. Captopril and ADM+captopril reduced creatinine excretion and creatinine clearance, while urine volume and sodium excretion were not significantly altered. Plasma renin activity rose with all active treatments, whereas angiotensin II levels rose during ADM, but fell during captopril and ADM+captopril. Aldosterone was reduced by all active treatments. ADM+captopril reduced plasma noradrenaline (norepinephrine). In conclusion, short-term co-treatment with ADM and an ACE inhibitor produced significantly greater decreases in ventricular filling pressures and cardiac afterload, and increases in cardiac output, compared with either treatment alone. Despite the greater falls in blood pressure (and presumably renal perfusion pressure), renal function was maintained at a level similar to that observed with captopril alone.

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