Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of the antihypertensive action of amlodipine is due to a direct relaxant effect on vascular smooth muscle. The precise mechanism by which amlodipine relieves angina has not been fully determined but amlodipine reduces total ischaemic burden by the following two actions:

  1. Amlodipine dilates peripheral arterioles and thus, reduces the total peripheral resistance (afterload) against which the heart works. Since the heart rate remains stable, this unloading of the heart reduces myocardial energy consumption and oxygen requirements.
  2. The mechanism of action of amlodipine also probably involves dilatation of the main coronary arteries and coronary arterioles, both in normal and ischaemic regions. This dilatation increases myocardial oxygen delivery in patients with coronary artery spasm (Prinzmetal’s or variant angina).

Pharmacodynamic Properties

Amlodipine is a calcium ion influx inhibitor of the dihydropyridine group (slow channel blocker or calcium ion antagonist) and inhibits the transmembrane influx of calcium ions into cardiac and vascular smooth muscle.

In patients with hypertension, once daily dosing provides clinically significant reductions of blood pressure in both the supine and standing positions throughout the 24 hour interval. Due to the slow onset of action, acute hypotension is not a feature of amlodipine administration.

In patients with angina, once daily administration of amlodipine increases total exercise time, time to angina onset, and time to 1 mm ST segment depression, and decreases both angina attack frequency and glyceryl trinitrate tablet consumption.

Amlodipine has not been associated with any adverse metabolic effects or changes in plasma lipids and is suitable for use in patients with asthma, diabetes, and gout.

Pharmacokinetic Properties

Absorption, distribution, plasma protein binding

After oral administration of therapeutic doses, amlodipine is well absorbed with peak blood levels between 6-12 hours post dose. Absolute bioavailability has been estimated to be between 64 and 80%. The volume of distribution is approximately 21 l/kg. In vitro studies have shown that approximately 97.5% of circulating amlodipine is bound to plasma proteins.

The bioavailability of amlodipine is not affected by food intake.

Biotransformation/elimination

The terminal plasma elimination half-life is about 35-50 hours and is consistent with once daily dosing. Amlodipine is extensively metabolised by the liver to inactive metabolites with 10% of the parent compound and 60% of metabolites excreted in the urine.

Hepatic impairment

Very limited clinical data are available regarding amlodipine administration in patients with hepatic impairment. Patients with hepatic insufficiency have decreased clearance of amlodipine resulting in a longer half-life and an increase in AUC of approximately 40-60%.

Elderly population

The time to reach peak plasma concentrations of amlodipine is similar in elderly and younger subjects. Amlodipine clearance tends to be decreased with resulting increases in AUC and elimination half-life in elderly patients. Increases in AUC and elimination half-life in patients with congestive heart failure were as expected for the patient age group studied.

Paediatric population

A population PK study has been conducted in 74 hypertensive children aged from 1 to 17 years (with 34 patients aged 6 to 12 years and 28 patients aged 13 to 17 years) receiving amlodipine between 1.25 and 20 mg given either once or twice daily. In children 6 to 12 years and in adolescents 13-17 years of age the typical oral clearance (CL/F) was 22.5 and 27.4 L/hr respectively in males and 16.4 and 21.3 L/hr respectively in females. Large variability in exposure between individuals was observed. Data reported in children below 6 years is limited.

Preclinical Safety Data

Reproductive toxicology

Reproductive studies in rats and mice have shown delayed date of delivery, prolonged duration of labour and decreased pup survival at dosages approximately 50 times greater than the maximum recommended dosage for humans based on mg/kg.

Impairment of fertility

There was no effect on the fertility of rats treated with amlodipine (males for 64 days and females 14 days prior to mating) at doses up to 10 mg/kg/day (8 times* the maximum recommended human dose of 10 mg on a mg/m² basis). In another rat study in which male rats were treated with amlodipine besilate for 30 days at a dose comparable with the human dose based on mg/kg, decreased plasma follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone were found as well as decreases in sperm density and in the number of mature spermatids and Sertoli cells.

Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis

Rats and mice treated with amlodipine in the diet for two years, at concentrations calculated to provide daily dosage levels of 0.5, 1.25, and 2.5 mg/kg/day showed no evidence of carcinogenicity. The highest dose (for mice, similar to, and for rats twice* the maximum recommended clinical dose of 10 mg on a mg/m² basis) was close to the maximum tolerated dose for mice but not for rats.

Mutagenicity studies revealed no drug related effects at either the gene or chromosome levels.

* Based on patient weight of 50 kg

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