This study was undertaken to determine whether angiotensin receptor blockers are as renoprotective as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in an experimental model of chronic interstitial renal disease. Groups of rats received one of the following treatments for 1 week: (1) enalapril, (2) diltiazem, (3) a cocktail of hydralazine, reserpine, and hydrochlorothiazide, or (4) irbesartan (an AT1 antagonist). The animals were injected with bromoethylamine (200 mg/kg), and antihypertensive treatment continued for 1 month. All drugs were effective in lowering the mean arterial pressure. The bromoethylamine-treated rats developed albuminuria and sustained a 40–50% decrease in creatinine clearance. Enalapril and irbesartan reduced albuminuria, but only enalapril partially prevented the decline in creatinine clearance and lowered the number of ED-1-positive cells. Diltiazem and cocktail had no effect on proteinuria, creatinine clearance, or ED-1 cells. In this experimental model, the effects of enalapril and irbesartan were not identical. Both drugs reduced proteinuria, but enalapril was more effective in protecting the renal function. The fact that the AT1 antagonist protected against albuminuria but did not affect the clearance of creatinine implies that the results seen with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition may be in part due to an effect on angiotensin II via AT2 receptor blockade or through an effect on bradykinin.

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