Background: The beneficial cardiac effects of some Ca2+ channel blockers have been attributed to blood pressure reduction, but these pleiotropic effects require further investigation. We compared the effects of benidipine, which has beneficial cardiac effects, and nitrendipine, which does not, in an animal model of hypertensive diastolic heart failure (DHF). Methods and results: Male Dahl salt-sensitive rats were fed a high-salt diet from age 7 weeks to induce hypertension and were either vehicle or orally administered benidipine (3 mg/kg daily) or nitrendipine (10 mg/kg daily) from age 10 to 18 weeks. Control rats were maintained on a low-salt diet. In vehicle-treated rats, left-ventricular (LV) fractional shortening was preserved but LV end-diastolic pressure was increased, indicative of DHF. Benidipine and nitrendipine had similar antihypertensive effects and reduced both LV weight and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Benidipine reduced LV diastolic stiffness and mortality to a greater extent than did nitrendipine. Benidipine, but not nitrendipine, also reduced lung weight. The extent of interstitial fibrosis and the abundance of mRNAs for prohypertrophic, profibrotic, or proinflammatory genes in the left ventricle were reduced by benidipine and nitrendipine. Benidipine, but not nitrendipine, increased capillary density and restored the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α, vascular endothelial growth factor, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase in the left ventricle. Conclusions: Benidipine reduced LV diastolic stiffness and increased survival, effects likely attributable predominantly to promotion of coronary angiogenesis rather than to attenuation of interstitial fibrosis. Benidipine may thus be more effective than purely L-type Ca channel blockers in preventing hypertensive DHF.
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