OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to assess whether the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) gene insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism influences the adequacy of the neurohormonal response to ACE inhibitors in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). BACKGROUND: The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of CHF, and aldosterone levels closely relate to outcome in patients with CHF. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors suppress the RAAS, but a significant proportion of patients exhibit elevated serum levels of aldosterone despite long-term administration of apparently adequate doses of these agents. METHODS: We prospectively studied 132 patients with CHF (ejection fraction 42 nmol/L). Patients were then divided into two subgroups according to the presence (group 1) or absence (group 2) of aldosterone escape. Genotype analysis for the ACE I/D polymorphism was performed by polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: The prevalence of aldosterone escape in our patients was 10% (13/132). The two groups of patients did not differ regarding the dose of ACE inhibitor, diuretics and their renal function. There was a statistically significant different distribution of genotypes between the two groups, with a higher proportion of DD genotype in group 1 compared with group 2 (62% vs. 24%, p = 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with CHF with aldosterone escape have a higher prevalence of DD genotype compared with patients with aldosterone within the normal limits. Angiotensin-converting enzyme gene polymorphism contributes to the modulation and adequacy of the neurohormonal response to long-term ACE-inhibitor administration in CHF.
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