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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Aug;86(8):485-98. doi: 10.1139/Y08-059.

Endothelin: 20 years from discovery to therapy.

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  • 1Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin, Departement für Innere Medizin, Universitätsspital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.


Since its identification as an endothelial cell-derived vasoconstrictor peptide in 1988, endothelin-1, the predominant member of the endothelin peptide family, has received considerable interest in basic medical science and in clinical medicine, which is reflected by more than 20 000 scientific publications on endothelin research in the past 20 years. The story of endothelin is unique as the gene sequences of endothelin receptors and the first receptor antagonists became available within only 4 years of the identification of the peptide sequence. The first clinical study in patients with congestive heart failure was published only 3 years thereafter. Yet, despite convincing experimental evidence of a pathogenetic role for endothelin in development, cell function, and disease, many initial clinical studies on endothelin antagonism were negative. In many of these studies, study designs or patient selection were inadequate. Today, for diseases such as pulmonary hypertension, endothelin antagonist treatment has become reality in clinical medicine, and ongoing clinical studies are evaluating additional indications, such as renal disease and cancer. Twenty years after the discovery of endothelin, its inhibitors have finally arrived in the clinical arena and are now providing us with new options to treat disease and prolong the lives of patients. Possible future indications include resistant arterial hypertension, proteinuric renal disease, cancer, and connective tissue diseases.

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