"What are angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and how do they work?
The class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), as the class name suggests, are drugs that block the action of angiotensin. Specifically, ARBs preve"...
Mechanism of Action
Angiotensin II is a potent vasoconstrictor formed from angiotensin I in a reaction catalyzed by angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE, kininase II). Angiotensin II is the principal pressor agent of the RAS and also stimulates aldosterone synthesis and secretion by adrenal cortex, cardiac contraction, renal resorption of sodium, activity of the sympathetic nervous system, and smooth muscle cell growth. Irbesartan blocks the vasoconstrictor and aldosterone-secreting effects of angiotensin II by selectively binding to the AT1 angiotensin II receptor. There is also an AT2 receptor in many tissues, but it is not involved in cardiovascular homeostasis.
Irbesartan is a specific competitive antagonist of AT1 receptors with a much greater affinity (more than 8500-fold) for the AT1 receptor than for the AT2 receptor, and no agonist activity.
Blockade of the AT1 receptor removes the negative feedback of angiotensin II on renin secretion, but the resulting increased plasma renin activity and circulating angiotensin II do not overcome the effects of irbesartan on blood pressure.
Irbesartan does not inhibit ACE or renin or affect other hormone receptors or ion channels known to be involved in the cardiovascular regulation of blood pressure and sodium homeostasis. Because irbesartan does not inhibit ACE, it does not affect the response to bradykinin; whether this has clinical relevance is not known.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a thiazide diuretic. Thiazides affect the renal tubular mechanisms of electrolyte reabsorption, directly increasing excretion of sodium and chloride in approximately equivalent amounts. Indirectly, the diuretic action of hydrochlorothiazide reduces plasma volume, with consequent increases in plasma renin activity, increases in aldosterone secretion, increases in urinary potassium loss, and decreases in serum potassium. The renin-aldosterone link is mediated by angiotensin II, so coadministration of an angiotensin II receptor antagonist tends to reverse the potassium loss associated with these diuretics.
The mechanism of the antihypertensive effect of thiazides is not fully understood.
In healthy subjects, single oral irbesartan doses of up to 300 mg produced dose-dependent inhibition of the pressor effect of angiotensin II infusions. Inhibition was complete (100%) 4 hours following oral doses of 150 mg or 300 mg and partial inhibition was sustained for 24 hours (60% and 40% at 300 mg and 150 mg, respectively).
In hypertensive patients, angiotensin II receptor inhibition following chronic administration of irbesartan causes a 1.5- to 2-fold rise in angiotensin II plasma concentration and a 2- to 3-fold increase in plasma renin levels. Aldosterone plasma concentrations generally decline following irbesartan administration, but serum potassium levels are not significantly affected at recommended doses.
In hypertensive patients, chronic oral doses of irbesartan (up to 300 mg) had no effect on glomerular filtration rate, renal plasma flow or filtration fraction. In multiple dose studies in hypertensive patients, there were no clinically important effects on fasting triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, or fasting glucose concentrations. There was no effect on serum uric acid during chronic oral administration and no uricosuric effect.
After oral administration of hydrochlorothiazide, diuresis begins within 2 hours, peaks in about 4 hours and lasts about 6 to 12 hours.
Irbesartan is an orally active agent that does not require biotransformation into an active form. The oral absorption of irbesartan is rapid and complete with an average absolute bioavailability of 60% to 80%. Following oral administration of irbesartan, peak plasma concentrations of irbesartan are attained at 1.5 to 2 hours after dosing. Food does not affect the bioavailability of irbesartan.
Irbesartan exhibits linear pharmacokinetics over the therapeutic dose range.
The terminal elimination half-life of irbesartan averaged 11 to 15 hours. Steady-state concentrations are achieved within 3 days. Limited accumulation of irbesartan ( < 20%) is observed in plasma upon repeated once-daily dosing.
When plasma levels have been followed for at least 24 hours, the plasma half-life has been observed to vary between 5.6 and 14.8 hours.
Metabolism and Elimination
Irbesartan is metabolized via glucuronide conjugation and oxidation. Following oral or intravenous administration of 14C-labeled irbesartan, more than 80% of the circulating plasma radioactivity is attributable to unchanged irbesartan. The primary circulating metabolite is the inactive irbesartan glucuronide conjugate (approximately 6%). The remaining oxidative metabolites do not add appreciably to irbesartan's pharmacologic activity.
Irbesartan and its metabolites are excreted by both biliary and renal routes. Following either oral or intravenous administration of 14C-labeled irbesartan, about 20% of radioactivity is recovered in the urine and the remainder in the feces, as irbesartan or irbesartan glucuronide.
In vitro studies of irbesartan oxidation by cytochrome P450 isoenzymes indicated irbesartan was oxidized primarily by 2C9; metabolism by 3A4 was negligible. Irbesartan was neither metabolized by, nor did it substantially induce or inhibit, isoenzymes commonly associated with drug metabolism (1A1, 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2D6, 2E1). There was no induction or inhibition of 3A4.
Hydrochlorothiazide is not metabolized but is eliminated rapidly by the kidney. At least 61% of the oral dose is eliminated unchanged within 24 hours.
Irbesartan is 90% bound to serum proteins (primarily albumin and α1-acid glycoprotein) with negligible binding to cellular components of blood. The average volume of distribution is 53 to 93 liters. Total plasma and renal clearances are in the range of 157 to 176 mL/min and 3.0 to 3.5 mL/min, respectively. With repetitive dosing, irbesartan accumulates to no clinically relevant extent.
Studies in animals indicate that radiolabeled irbesartan weakly crosses the blood-brain barrier and placenta. Irbesartan is excreted in the milk of lactating rats.
Hydrochlorothiazide crosses the placental but not the blood-brain barrier and is excreted in breast milk.
Irbesartan-hydrochlorothiazide pharmacokinetics have not been investigated in patients < 18 years of age.
No gender-related differences in pharmacokinetics were observed in healthy elderly (age 65 to 80 years) or in healthy young (age 18 to 40 years) subjects. In studies of hypertensive patients, there was no gender difference in half-life or accumulation, but somewhat higher plasma concentrations of irbesartan were observed in females (11% to 44%). No gender-related dosage adjustment is necessary.
In elderly subjects (age 65 to 80 years), irbesartan elimination half-life was not significantly altered, but AUC and Cmax values were about 20% to 50% greater than those of young subjects (age 18 to 40 years). No dosage adjustment is necessary in the elderly.
In healthy black subjects, irbesartan AUC values were approximately 25% greater than whites; there were no differences in Cmax values.
The pharmacokinetics of irbesartan were not altered in patients with renal impairment or in patients on hemodialysis. Irbesartan is not removed by hemodialysis. No dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with mild to severe renal impairment unless a patient with renal impairment is also volume depleted. [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
The pharmacokinetics of irbesartan following repeated oral administration were not significantly affected in patients with mild to moderate cirrhosis of the liver. No dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with hepatic insufficiency.
No significant drug-drug pharmacokinetic (or pharmacodynamic) interactions have been found in interaction studies with hydrochlorothiazide, digoxin, warfarin, and nifedipine.
In vitro studies show significant inhibition of the formation of oxidized irbesartan metabolites with the known cytochrome CYP 2C9 substrates/inhibitors sulphenazole, tolbutamide, and nifedipine. However, in clinical studies the consequences of concomitant irbesartan on the pharmacodynamics of warfarin were negligible. Concomitant nifedipine or hydrochlorothiazide had no effect on irbesartan pharmacokinetics. Based on in vitro data, no interaction would be expected with drugs whose metabolism is dependent upon cytochrome P450 isoenzymes 1A1, 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2D6, 2E1, or 3A4.
In separate studies of patients receiving maintenance doses of warfarin, hydrochlorothiazide, or digoxin, irbesartan administration for 7 days had no effect on the pharmacodynamics of warfarin (prothrombin time) or the pharmacokinetics of digoxin. The pharmacokinetics of irbesartan were not affected by coadministration of nifedipine or hydrochlorothiazide.
Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology
Reproductive Toxicology Studies
When pregnant rats were treated with irbesartan from Day 0 to Day 20 of gestation (oral doses of 50, 180, and 650 mg/kg/day), increased incidences of renal pelvic cavitation, hydroureter, and/or absence of renal papilla were observed in fetuses at doses ≥ 50 mg/kg/day (approximately equivalent to the MRHD, 300 mg/day, on a body surface area basis). Subcutaneous edema was observed in fetuses at doses ≥ 180 mg/kg/day (about 4 times the MRHD on a body surface area basis). As these anomalies were not observed in rats in which irbesartan exposure (oral doses of 50, 150, and 450 mg/kg/day) was limited to gestation days 6 to 15, they appear to reflect late gestational effects of the drug. In pregnant rabbits, oral doses of 30 mg irbesartan/kg/day were associated with maternal mortality and abortion. Surviving females receiving this dose (about 1.5 times the MRHD on a body surface area basis) had a slight increase in early resorptions and a corresponding decrease in live fetuses. Irbesartan was found to cross the placental barrier in rats and rabbits.
The antihypertensive effects of irbesartan were examined in 7 major placebo-controlled, 8- to 12week trials in patients with baseline diastolic blood pressures of 95 to 110 mmHg. Doses of 1 to 900 mg were included in these trials in order to fully explore the dose-range of irbesartan. These studies allowed a comparison of once- or twice-daily regimens at 150 mg/day, comparisons of peak and trough effects, and comparisons of response by gender, age, and race. Two of the 7 placebo-controlled trials identified above and 2 additional placebo-controlled studies examined the antihypertensive effects of irbesartan and hydrochlorothiazide in combination.
The 7 studies of irbesartan monotherapy included a total of 1915 patients randomized to irbesartan (1 to 900 mg) and 611 patients randomized to placebo. Once-daily doses of 150 to 300 mg provided statistically and clinically significant decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure with trough (24-hour post-dose) effects after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment compared to placebo, of about 8 to 10/5 to 6 mmHg and 8 to 12/5 to 8 mmHg, respectively. No further increase in effect was seen at dosages greater than 300 mg. The dose-response relationships for effects on systolic and diastolic pressure are shown in Figures 3 and 4.
Figure 3 : Placebo- subtracted reduction in trough SeSBP;
Figure 4 : Placebo- subtracted reduction in trough SeSBP;
Once-daily administration of therapeutic doses of irbesartan gave peak effects at around 3 to 6 hours and, in one continuous ambulatory blood pressure monitoring study, again around 14 hours. This was seen with both once-daily and twice-daily dosing. Trough-to-peak ratios for systolic and diastolic response were generally between 60% to 70%. In a continuous ambulatory blood pressure monitoring study, once-daily dosing with 150 mg gave trough and mean 24-hour responses similar to those observed in patients receiving twice-daily dosing at the same total daily dose.
Analysis of age, gender, and race subgroups of patients showed that men and women, and patients over and under 65 years of age, had generally similar responses. Irbesartan was effective in reducing blood pressure regardless of race, although the effect was somewhat less in blacks (usually a low-renin population). Black patients typically show an improved response with the addition of a low dose diuretic (e.g., 12.5 mg hydrochlorothiazide).
The effect of irbesartan is apparent after the first dose and is close to the full observed effect at 2 weeks. At the end of the 8-week exposure, about 2/3 of the antihypertensive effect was still present 1 week after the last dose. Rebound hypertension was not observed. There was essentially no change in average heart rate in irbesartan-treated patients in controlled trials.
The antihypertensive effects of AVALIDE (irbesartan-hydrochlorothiazide) Tablets were examined in 4 placebo-controlled studies in patients with mild-moderate hypertension (mean seated diastolic blood pressure [SeDBP] between 90 and 110 mmHg), one study in patients with moderate hypertension (mean seated systolic blood pressure [SeSBP] 160 to 179 mmHg or SeDBP 100 to 109 mmHg), and one study in patients with severe hypertension (mean SeDBP ≥ 110 mmHg) of 8 to 12 weeks. These trials included 3149 patients randomized to fixed doses of irbesartan (37.5 to 300 mg) and concomitant hydrochlorothiazide (6.25 to 25 mg).
Study I was a factorial study that compared all combinations of irbesartan (37.5 mg, 100 mg, and 300 mg or placebo) and hydrochlorothiazide (6.25 mg, 12.5 mg, and 25 mg or placebo).
Study II compared the irbesartan-hydrochlorothiazide combinations of 75/12.5 mg and 150/12.5 mg to their individual components and placebo.
Study III investigated the ambulatory blood pressure responses to irbesartan-hydrochlorothiazide (75/12.5 mg and 150/12.5 mg) and placebo after 8 weeks of dosing.
Study IV investigated the effects of the addition of irbesartan (75 or 150 mg) in patients not controlled (SeDBP 93-120 mmHg) on hydrochlorothiazide (25 mg) alone. In Studies I–III, the addition of irbesartan 150 to 300 mg to hydrochlorothiazide doses of 6.25, 12.5, or 25 mg produced further dose-related reductions in blood pressure at trough of 8 to 10 mmHg/3 to 6 mmHg, similar to those achieved with the same monotherapy dose of irbesartan. The addition of hydrochlorothiazide to irbesartan produced further dose-related reductions in blood pressure at trough (24 hours post-dose) of 5 to 6/2 to 3 mmHg (12.5 mg) and 7 to 11/4 to 5 mmHg (25 mg), also similar to effects achieved with hydrochlorothiazide alone. Once-daily dosing with 150 mg irbesartan and 12.5 mg hydrochlorothiazide, 300 mg irbesartan and 12.5 mg hydrochlorothiazide, or 300 mg irbesartan and 25 mg hydrochlorothiazide produced mean placebo-adjusted blood pressure reductions at trough (24 hours post-dosing) of about 13 to 15/7 to 9 mmHg, 14/9 to 12 mmHg, and 19 to 21/11 to 12 mmHg, respectively. Peak effects occurred at 3 to 6 hours, with the trough-to-peak ratios > 65%.
In Study IV, the addition of irbesartan (75–150 mg) gave an additive effect (systolic/diastolic) at trough (24 hours post-dosing) of 11/7 mmHg.
Studies V and VI had no placebo group, so effects described below are not all attributable to irbesartan or HCTZ.
Study V was conducted in patients with a mean baseline blood pressure of 162/98 mmHg and compared the change from baseline in SeSBP at 8 weeks between the combination group (irbesartan and HCTZ 150/12.5 mg), to irbesartan (150 mg) and to HCTZ (12.5 mg). These initial study regimens were increased at 2 weeks to AVALIDE 300/25 mg, irbesartan 300 mg, or to HCTZ 25 mg, respectively.
Mean reductions from baseline for SeDBP and SeSBP at trough were 14.6 mmHg and 27.1 mmHg for patients treated with AVALIDE, 11.6 mmHg and 22.1 mmHg for patients treated with irbesartan, and 7.3 mmHg and 15.7 mmHg for patients treated with HCTZ at 8 weeks, respectively. For patients treated with AVALIDE, the mean change from baseline in SeDBP was 3.0 mmHg lower (p=0.0013) and the mean change from baseline in SeSBP was 5.0 mmHg lower (p=0.0016) compared to patients treated with irbesartan, and 7.4 mmHg lower (p < 0.0001) and 11.3 mmHg lower (p < 0.0001) compared to patients treated with HCTZ, respectively. Withdrawal rates were 3.8% on irbesartan, 4.8% on HCTZ, and 6.7% on AVALIDE.
Study VI was conducted in patients with a mean baseline blood pressure of 172/113 mmHg and compared trough SeDBP at 5 weeks between the combination group (irbesartan and HCTZ 150/12.5 mg) and irbesartan (150 mg). These initial study regimens were increased at 1 week to AVALIDE 300/25 mg or to irbesartan 300 mg, respectively.
At 5 weeks, mean reductions from baseline for SeDBP and SeSBP at trough were 24.0 mmHg and 30.8 mmHg for patients treated with AVALIDE and 19.3 mmHg and 21.1 mmHg for patients treated with irbesartan, respectively. The mean SeDBP was 4.7 mmHg lower (p < 0.0001) and the mean SeSBP was 9.7 mmHg lower (p < 0.0001) in the group treated with AVALIDE than in the group treated with irbesartan. Patients treated with AVALIDE achieved more rapid blood pressure control with significantly lower SeDBP and SeSBP and greater blood pressure control at every assessment (Week 1, Week 3, Week 5, and Week 7). Maximum effects were seen at Week 7.
Withdrawal rates were 2.2% on irbesartan and 2.1% on AVALIDE.
In Studies I–VI, there was no difference in response for men and women or in patients over or under 65 years of age. Black patients had a larger response to hydrochlorothiazide than non-black patients and a smaller response to irbesartan. The overall response to the combination was similar for black and non-black patients.
Last reviewed on RxList: 11/8/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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