Effect of methyldopa on renal function in rats with L-NAME-induced hypertension in pregnancy

E. Podjarny, S. Benchetrit, B. Katz, J. Green, J. Bernheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pregnancy-induced hypertension is characterized by an increased sympathetic activity and probably by a decreased synthesis/activity of nitric oxide. The aim of the present study is to evaluate whether the beneficial action of the sympathetic antagonist methyldopa (a first-choice hypotensive agent in the treatment of PIH) may be associated to changes in nitric-oxide synthesis. Methods: Forty pregnant Wistar rats received L-NAME (NO synthase inhibitor, 9-10 mg/kg/day) from mid-pregnancy (day 11) through to term. Some rats were treated with daltroban (TxA receptor antagonist, 60 mg/kg/day), diltiazem (calcium channel blocker, 30 mg/kg/day), methyldopa (central adrenergic antagonist, 400 mg/kg/day) or L-arginine (260 mg/kg/day) from mid-pregnancy. The effect of the different treatments on systolic blood pressure (SBP), creatinine clearance (CCR), urine protein excretion (UP) and urinary nitrate excretion (UNO3, representing urine NO metabolite) were evaluated and the results compared with those found in normal pregnancy. Normal pregnant rats receiving similar treatment were used as controls. Results: In normal pregnant (P) rats, SBP values decreased from 94 ± 2 to 83 ± 3 mm Hg at the end of pregnancy (p < 0.01) and CCR augmented significantly. Drug treatment had no significant effect. In NAME-treated rats, at the same period, the SBP augmented from 92 ± 1 to 129 ± 1.8 mm Hg (p < 0.01). At the end of pregnancy, NAME rats had significantly lower CCR values and higher UP excretion when compared (with P rats. UNO3 increased significantly in P and in P rats treated with methyldopa. As expected, in NAME rats UNO3 excretion was significantly reduced. Treatment with methyldopa normalized SBP, improved CCR and proteinuria and was associated with an increase in UNO3. Similar results were obtained with L-arginine treatment. Diltiazem lowered SBP significantly but had no effect on renal function or UNO3 and daltroban had no effect. Conclusion: The increased UNO3 found in NAME rats treated with methyldopa suggests that the vasoconstriction secondary to chronic NO inhibition may be partially related to an increased sympathetic activity. The efficient action of the sympathetic antagonist methyldopa may be due not only to its antihypertensive effects but also by its stimulating effect on NO synthesis leading also to an improvement of renal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-359
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Glomerular filtration rate
  • Hypertension
  • Nitric oxide
  • Pregnancy


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