To study the possible physiological role of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) in the regulation of intraocular pressure (IOP) the effects of an increase of endogenous ANP within the physiological range induced by the neutral endopeptidase 24.11 (NEP) inhibitor candoxatril were examined. In a single masked placebo controlled trial, seven patients were studied with normal IOP (six male, one female; average age 50 (range 37-62 years). Intraocular pressure in each eye was measured after 2 weeks of placebo, after 4 weeks of candoxatril 200 mg twice daily, and during the first 3 days of placebo washout. With 4 weeks of candoxatril, endogenous plasma ANP levels increased from 4.2 (SEM 1.5) to 6.0 (1.5) pmol/l (p < 0.04) and there was a significant decrease in mean arterial pressure from 119 (4) to 110 (3) mm Hg (p < 0.02; 12 hours after treatment). There was a significant reduction in IOP after 4 weeks' treatment with candoxatril (right eye 2.1 (0.8) mm Hg, p < 0.05 paired t test, left eye 2.8 (0.8) mm Hg, p < 0.02). The mean fall in IOP was 11% (4%) in the right eye and 16% (3%) in the left eye and the fall in IOP was greater the higher the initial IOP. The reduction in IOP with chronic NEP inhibition was positively correlated with the increase in ANP levels but not with changes in blood pressure. These findings suggest that ANP may play a physiological role in the regulation of IOP. As the fall in IOP was greater in subjects with higher initial IOP, NEP inhibitors may be of therapeutic value in the management of glaucoma.
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