Differential effects of captopril and nitrates on muscle sympathetic nerve activity in volunteers

Noll, G.; Wenzel, R. R.; de Marchi, S.; Shaw, S.; Lüscher, T. F. (1997). Differential effects of captopril and nitrates on muscle sympathetic nerve activity in volunteers. Circulation, 95(9), pp. 2286-2292. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is an important regulator of cardiovascular function. Activation of SNS plays an important role in the pathophysiology and the prognosis of cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, acute coronary syndromes, arrhythmia, and possibly hypertension. Vasodilators such as adenosine and sodium nitroprusside are known to activate SNS via baroreflex mechanisms. Because vasodilators are widely used in the treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases, the aim of the present study was to assess the influence of clinically used dosages of isosorbide dinitrate and captopril on sympathetic nerve activity at rest and during stimulatory maneuvers.


Twenty-eight healthy volunteers were included in this double-blind placebo-controlled study, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSA; with microelectrodes in the peroneal nerve), blood pressure, heart rate, and neurohumoral parameters were measured before and 90 minutes after the oral administration of 40 mg isosorbide dinitrate or 6.25 mg captopril. Furthermore, a 3-minute mental stress test and a cold pressor test were performed before and 90 minutes after drug administration. Resting MSA did not change after captopril and decreased compared with placebo (P < .05 versus placebo), whereas isosorbide dinitrate led to a marked increase in MSA (P < .05). Systolic blood pressure was reduced by isosorbide dinitrate (P < .05), whereas captopril decreased diastolic blood pressure (P < .05). The increases in MSA, blood pressure, and heart rate during mental stress were comparable before and after drug administration regardless of the medication. During cold pressor test, MSA and systolic and diastolic blood pressures increased to the same degree independent of treatment, but after isosorbide dinitrate, the increase in MSA seemed to be less pronounced. Heart rate did not change during cold stimulation. Plasma renin activity increased after captopril and isosorbide dinitrate (P < .05), whereas placebo had no effect. Endothelin-1 increased after placebo and isosorbide dinitrate (P < .05) but not after captopril.


Thus, captopril suppressed MSA despite lowering of diastolic blood pressure but allowed normal adaptation of the SNS during mental or physical stress. In contrast, the nitrate strongly activated the SNS under baseline conditions. These findings demonstrate that vasodilators differentially interact with the SNS, which could be of importance in therapeutic strategies for the treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology

UniBE Contributor:

De Marchi, Stefano, Shaw, Sidney


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Lippincott Williams & Wilkins




Stefano de Marchi

Date Deposited:

25 Apr 2014 14:10

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:23

PubMed ID:




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