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Am J Med. 2006 Jul;119(7 Suppl 1):S87-92.

Vasopressin antagonists as aquaretic agents for the treatment of hyponatremia.

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Division of Nephrology, Medizinische Klinik III, Universitätsklinikum C.G. Carus, Dresden, Germany.


Hyponatremia is the most frequent electrolyte disorder encountered in hospitalized patients. It is a state of relative water excess due to stimulated arginine vasopressin (AVP) and fluid intake greater than obligatory losses. This kind of hyponatremia occurs in the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, congestive heart failure, and liver cirrhosis. Fluid restriction is the presently recommended treatment for hyponatremia. However, fluid restriction may be very difficult for patients to achieve, is slow to work, and does not allow a graded therapeutic approach. More efficient and specific treatments of hyponatremia are needed. In this respect, pharmacologic research has yielded a number of compounds exhibiting antagonistic qualities at the vasopressin V2 receptor. Among these agents, peptidic derivatives of AVP turned out to have intrinsic antidiuretic properties in vivo when given over days or weeks. The development of such agents for use in patients has not been pursued. However, several promising nonpeptide, vasopressin receptor antagonists have been described; these agents are VPA-985 (lixivaptan), YM-087 (conivaptan), OPC-41061 (tolvaptan), and SR-121463. Prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trials performed with these agents found that they corrected hyponatremia efficiently and safely. Most of the studies were conducted over a 4- to 28-day period. Long-term studies will be needed in the future to address such issues as the eventual benefit to patients and the effects of vasopressin antagonists on morbidity and mortality of patients with hyponatremia.

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