Ovaert, P., Elliott, J., Bernay, F., Guillot, E., Bardon, T. Aldosterone receptor antagonists – how cardiovascular actions may explain their beneficial effects in heart failure. J. vet. Pharmacol. Therap.33, 109–117.
Historically, aldosterone receptor antagonists (ARA) have been classified as ‘potassium sparing diuretics’. However, the positive effect of spironolactone, the most extensively studied ARA, on morbidity and mortality observed in humans suffering cardiac insufficiency could not be explained by the renal effect of the drug alone, and a pivotal clinical study has led to extensive research. Many experimental studies have demonstrated that ARA have previously unexpected beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system including reduction in remodelling of the vascular smooth muscle cells and myocytes and improvement of endothelial cell dysfunction in heart failure. These effects improve vascular compliance and slow down the progression of left ventricular dysfunction and end-organ damage. Furthermore, aldosterone receptor blockade also restores the baroreceptor reflex, improving heart rate variability in heart failure in humans. Some of these effects have been demonstrated in dog models of cardiac disease and so justified further investigation of the potential benefit of ARA in dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF). Positive effects of spironolactone on morbidity and mortality appear to have been seen in studies conducted in dogs suffering from naturally occurring CHF. In addition, eplerenone has been shown to have benefits in canine models of heart failure. The precise mechanisms by which ARA produce these beneficial effects in dogs remain to be determined but this group of drugs clearly provide therapeutic actions out-with their diuretic effects.