1. Some non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetic patients show albuminuria without arterial hypertension. In these patients, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors reduce urinary albumin excretion without producing any changes in systemic blood pressure and renal haemodynamics. However, up to now it has not been clear whether these favourable renal effects are specifically related to angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition or not.
2. Twelve type II diabetic outpatients with persistent macroalbuminuria (greater than 300 mg/daily on at least three consecutive occasions), without any other signs of renal disease and whose blood pressure was persistently below 140/90 mmHg, were studied.
3. In a randomized sequence and in a double-blind fashion, after a 2-month run-in period, patients were allocated to receive 5 mg of enalapril or 50 mg of atenolol daily for the next 6 months. At the end of this first period and after 6 months on placebo in a cross-over fashion, active treatment was replicated. Blood pressure and urinary albumin excretion were measured every 2 months, whereas the other variables studied were determined at the end of each period.
4. Kidney function and blood pressure did not change significantly, whereas albuminuria decreased significantly, after both of the drugs.
5. These data suggest that the inhibition of tissue angiotensin formation and the consequent reduction in glomerular permeability, rather than changes in renal and systemic haemodynamics, are the common mechanisms by which both enalapril and atenolol decreased albuminuria in our patients.