Therapeutic modulation of the nitric oxide: all ace inhibitors are not equivalent

L. Comini, T. Bachetti, A. Cargnoni, D. Bastianon, G. L. Gitti, C. Ceconi, R. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The properties of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors have largely been attributed to a class effect. However, this opinion is now increasingly challenged in view of the findings from recent clinical trials, which have demonstrated differential effects of ACE inhibitors, in particular with respect to secondary cardiovascular prevention outcomes. In this experimental study, Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with five different ACE inhibitors (enalapril, perindopril, quinapril, ramipril, and trandolapril) at equihypotensive doses. All ACE inhibitors increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) protein expression and activity in the aorta (both P <0.0001 versus vehicle) and in cardiac myocytes (both P <0.05 versus vehicle). A highly significant effect was observed with perindopril when compared with vehicle in the modulation of eNOS protein expression and activity in aorta (22.52 ± 1.09 versus 9.12 ± 0.57 AU μg-1 protein and 1.59 ± 0.03 versus 0.77 ± 0.02 pmol l-1 citrulline min-1 mg protein-1, respectively) and in cardiac myocytes (17.64 ± 0.94 versus 11.30 ± 0.59 AU μg-1 protein and 0.93 ± 0.02 versus 0.62 ± 0.03 pmol l-1 citrulline min-1 mg protein-1, respectively). On the basis of the eNOS protein expression in the rat aorta, the other ACE inhibitors had similar, but lower effects. Indeed, the rank of potency - based both on eNOS protein expression and activity - was perindopril > trandolapril ≈ quinapril ≈ ramipril ≈ enalapril (P <0.05 perindopril versus trandolapril and ramipril and P <0.01 perindopril versus enalapril, respectively). Levels of circulating nitrite/nitrate, the end-metabolites of nitric oxide, were also significantly affected by ACE inhibition, with the same order of potency. Our findings provide further evidence in favor of differential effects associated with ACE inhibitor therapy and suggest that the clinical benefits associated with these drugs may not solely reflect a class effect extending their benefit beyond blood pressure-lowering effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • ACE inhibitor
  • Bradykinin
  • Cardiac myocyte
  • Endothelium
  • NO synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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