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Aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) inhibition has emerged as a new option for the treatment of hypertension, heart failure and renal disorders, in addition to mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) blockade. The aim is to decrease aldosterone concentrations in both plasma and tissues, thereby decreasing MR-dependent and MR-independent effects in the cardiac, vascular and renal target organs. LCI699 was the first orally active aldosterone-synthase inhibitor to be developed for human use. Its structure is similar to that of FAD286, the dextroenantiomer of the aromatase inhibitor, fadrozole. It dose-dependently decreases plasma and urine aldosterone concentrations by up to 70 or 80% and increases plasma renin activity in healthy male subjects on a low-sodium diet. LCI699 does not decrease basal plasma cortisol concentrations at doses of 0.5-3 mg q.d., but it blocks the cortisol response to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) at doses ≥ 3 mg q.d. In a proof-of-concept study in patients with primary aldosteronism (PA), LCI699 (0.5-1 mg b.i.d.) induced a dose-dependent and reversible 70-80% decrease in plasma and urinary aldosterone concentration accompanied by a massive dose-dependent accumulation of deoxycorticosterone (>+700%), the aldosterone precursor, in the plasma, thereby confirming the inhibition of the CYP11B2 gene product. This effect was associated with a rapid correction of hypokalaemia, a modest decrease in blood pressure (BP) and a mild increase in plasma renin concentration in patients with PA. LCI699 administration induced biological signs of partial inhibition of the glucocorticoid axis, such as dose-dependent increases in both plasma ACTH and 11-deoxycortisol (the precursor of cortisol) concentrations, consistent with the inhibition of the CYP11B1 gene product. An 8-week placebo-controlled dose-response study on patients with Stage 1 and 2 essential hypertension reported an optimal decrease in BP with a dose of 1 mg LCI699 q.d., which had an antihypertensive effect similar to that of 50 mg b.i.d. eplerenone. A blunted cortisol response to ACTH was observed in 20% of patients, but the clinical and biological safety and tolerability of LCI699 were similar to those of placebo and eplerenone. The discovery of this first orally active aldosterone synthase inhibitor, LCI699, has provided new opportunities to assess the feasibility and the haemodynamic, biological and safety consequences as well as the limitations of this new approach to block the aldosterone pathway in hypertensive patients. However, as the effects of LCI699 on the glucocorticoid axis limit the use of higher doses range because of the loss of selectivity for CYP11B2, this aldosterone synthase inhibitor cannot replace the MR blockade in patients with hypertension, other cardiovascular or renal disorders. The development of second-generation aldosterone synthase inhibitors with a higher selectivity index for CYP11B2 than LCI699 should make it possible to test this approach at much higher doses in these patients, after the necessary toxicology and Phase I studies.


Michel Azizi, Laurence Amar, Joël Menard. Aldosterone synthase inhibition in humans. Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association. 2013 Jan;28(1):36-43

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PMID: 23045428

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