PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Treatment with aprocitentan, a novel agent currently under Food and Drug Administration review for lowering blood pressure in people with treatment-resistant hypertension, showed efficacy and safety in people with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD). The results come from a prespecified subgroup analysis of data collected in the drug’s pivotal trial, PRECISION.
The findings provide support for potentially using aprocitentan, if approved for U.S. marketing in 2024, in patients with blood pressure that remains elevated despite treatment with three established antihypertensive drug classes and with stage 3 CKD with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of 30-59 mL/min per 1.73 m2. This is a key group of patients because “chronic kidney disease is the most common comorbidity in patients with resistant hypertension,” said George Bakris, MD, who presented the subgroup analysis at Kidney Week 2023, organized by the American Society of Nephrology.
The CKD subgroup analysis showed “good evidence for safety and evidence in stage 3 CKD,” a subgroup of 141 patients among the total 730 enrolled in PRECISION, said Bakris. Professor and director of the Comprehensive Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago, he acknowledged that while the results also showed a signal for safety and efficacy in the 21 enrolled patients with stage 4 hypertension, 15-29 mL/min per 1.73m2, this number of stage 4 patients was too small to allow definitive conclusions.
Nephrologist Nishigandha Pradhan, MD, who cochaired the session with this report, agreed. “Resistant hypertension is a particularly intractable problem in patients with CKD, and the risk is greatest with stage 4 CKD. If studies could show that aprocitentan is safe in people with stage 4 CKD, that would be a big plus, but we need more data,” commented Pradhan in an interview.
Incremental Blood Pressure Reductions
The parallel-group, phase 3 PRECISION trial investigated the safety and short-term antihypertensive effect of aprocitentan in patients with resistant hypertension. The study’s primary efficacy endpoint was blood pressure reduction from baseline in 730 randomized people with persistent systolic hypertension despite treatment with three established antihypertensive agents including a diuretic. The study ran during June 2018–April 2022 at 191 sites in 22 countries.
The primary outcome after 4 weeks on treatment was a least-square mean reduction in office-measured systolic blood pressure, compared with placebo, of 3.8 mm Hg with a 12.5-mg daily oral dose of aprocitentan and 3.7 mm Hg with a 25-mg daily oral dose. Both significant differences were first reported in 2022. Twenty-four–hour ambulatory systolic blood pressures after 4 weeks of treatment fell by an average of 4.2 mm Hg on the lower dose compared with placebo and by an average of 5.9 mm Hg on the higher daily dose, compared with placebo.
Consistent blood pressure reductions occurred in the CKD subgroups. Among people with stage 3 CKD, daytime ambulatory blood pressure at 4 weeks fell by about 10 mm Hg on both the 12.5 mg daily and 25 mg daily doses, compared with placebo.
Among the small number of people with stage 4 CKD, the incremental nighttime systolic blood pressure on aprocitentan, compared with placebo, was even greater, with about a 15 mm Hg incremental reduction on 12.5 mg daily and about a 17 mm Hg incremental reduction on the higher dose.
“This is the first evidence for a change in nocturnal blood pressure in people with stage 4 CKD [and treatment-resistant hypertension], but it was just 21 patients so not yet a big deal,” Bakris noted.
Increased Rates of Fluid Retention
Although aprocitentan was generally well tolerated, the most common adverse effect was edema or fluid retention, mainly during the first 4 weeks of treatment. In the full PRECISION cohort, this adverse event occurred in 2.1% of people treated with placebo, 9.1% of those on the 12.5 mg daily dose, and in 18.4% of those on the higher dose during the initial 4-week phase of treatment.
Among all stage 3 and 4 CKD patients on aprocitentan, edema or fluid retention occurred in 21% during the first 4 weeks, and in 27% during an additional 32 weeks of treatment with 25 mg aprocitentan daily. A majority of these patients started a diuretic to address their excess fluid, with only two discontinuing aprocitentan treatment.
“Fluid retention is an issue with aprocitentan,” Bakris acknowledged. But he also highlighted than only 6 of the 162 patients with CKD required hospitalization for heart failure during the study, and one of these cases had placebo treatment. Among the five with acute heart failure while on aprocitentan, none had to stop their treatment, and two had a clear prior history of heart failure.
The companies developing aprocitentan, Janssen and Idorsia, used the PRECISION results as the centerpiece in filing for a new drug approval to the FDA, with a March 2024 goal for the FDA’s decision. Bakris called the application “a solid case for approval.” But he added that approval will likely require that all treatment candidates first undergo testing of their heart function or fluid volume, such as a measure of their blood level of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, with treatment withheld when the level is too high.
The upside of aprocitentan compared with current drug options for treating resistant hypertension is that it has not appeared to cause any increase in blood potassium levels, which is an issue with the current top agent for resistant hypertension, spironolactone.
“The problem with spironolactone is the risk for hyperkalemia, which keeps us looking for something with lower risk,” commented Pradhan, a nephrologist with University Hospitals in Cleveland. Hyperkalemia is an even greater risk for people with CKD. Although the PRECISION trial identified the issue of fluid retention with aprocitentan, titrating an effective dose of a loop diuretic for treated patients may effectively blunt the edema risk, Pradhan said.
Endothelin has a potent vasoconstrictive effect and is “implicated in the pathogenesis of hypertension,” Bakris explained. Aprocitentan antagonizes both the endothelin A and B receptors. The subgroup analyses also showed that in people with CKD, treatment with aprocitentan led to roughly a halving of the baseline level of urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio, a small and stable decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate, and a modest and stable increase in blood levels of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic hormone.
The PRECISION trial was sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Idorsia Pharmaceuticals, the companies jointly developing aprocitentan. Bakris has been a consultant to Janssen, and also a consultant to or honoraria recipient of Alnylam, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Dia Medica Therapeutics, Ionis, inREGEN, KBP Biosciences, Merck, Novo Nordisk, and Quantum Genomics. Pradhan had no disclosures.
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Publish date : 2023-11-07 20:06:34
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