Angiotensin II (Ang II) infusion in rats augments vascular injury in balloon-injured carotid arteries and induces marked vascular and tubulointerstitial injury in kidneys. We examined how the AT1 receptor is modulated and whether blockade of the receptor with losartan could prevent the phenotypic and cellular changes. We also examined the role of the local renin-angiotensin system (RAS) by examining the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and the effect of treatment with the ACE inhibitor, ramipril. Ang II infusion resulted in systemic hypertension and accelerated intimal and medial thickening in balloon-injured carotid arteries. Renal injury was manifested by proteinuria, glomerular phenotypic changes (mesangial expression of alpha-actin and podocyte expression of desmin), and tubulointerstitial injury with the tubular upregulation of the macrophage-adhesive protein, osteopontin, the interstitial accumulation of macrophages and myofibroblasts, and the deposition of collagen types III and IV. Ang II infusion decreased AT1 receptor number in the renal interstitium but not in glomeruli. Losartan completely blocked the Ang II-mediated hypertension, proteinuria, and injury to both carotid and kidney. Ang II infusion was also associated with an increase in ACE protein in both the proximal tubular brush border as well as at interstitial sites of injury, but despite evidence for activation of the local RAS, treatment with ramipril was without effect. These studies demonstrate that the renal and vascular injury induced by Ang II infusion is mediated by the AT1 receptor despite downregulation of the receptor in the interstitium. In addition, although there is evidence for local RAS activation, the injury appears to be mediated solely by the exogenous Ang II.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel