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J Hepatol. 2005 Nov;43(5):791-8. Epub 2005 Jun 20.

Neutral endopeptidase (EC in cirrhotic liver: a new target to treat portal hypertension?

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Gastroenterology Unit, Gradenigo Hospital, Turin, Italy.



In liver cirrhosis atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) decreases portal vascular resistance and tributary flow. The enzyme neutral endopeptidase (NEP) degrades ANP and bradykinin and generates endothelin-1 from big-endothelin. We determined the effects of NEP inhibition by candoxatrilat on hormonal status, liver function and arterial and portal pressures in rats with CCl4-induced cirrhosis.


Two groups of seven control rats received 1 ml 5% glucose solution alone or containing 10 mg/kg candoxatrilat; three groups of 10 ascitic cirrhotic rats received placebo, 5 or 10 mg/kg candoxatrilat. NEP protein concentration and immunostaining were analyzed in normal and cirrhotic livers.


In cirrhotic rats 10 mg/kg candoxatrilat significantly increased steady-state indocyanine green clearance (a parameter reflecting liver plasma flow) (P<0.01), decreased portal pressure (P<0.01), had no effect on arterial pressure and plasma renin activity but increased ANP plasma levels (P<0.05) and urinary excretions (P<0.01) of ANP and cGMP. In the cytosol fraction of rat cirrhotic livers a 280% increase in NEP content was found (P<0.01), chiefly localized in desmin-positive myofibroblast-like cells of fibrous septa.


Candoxatrilat has few effects on systemic hemodynamics and hormonal status; its portal hypotensive action depends on effects exerted on intrahepatic vascular resistance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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