We previously demonstrated the presence of components for a renin-angiotensin system in fibroblasts cultured from neonatal rat ventricles, the regulation of expression of which has not been studied. Since glucocorticoids and beta-adrenergic stimuli have been implicated in cardiac hypertrophy, and function as regulators of the circulating renin-angiotensin system, we examined the effects of dexamethasone and isoproterenol on angiotensinogen mRNA levels and protein secretion in cultured neonatal rat cardiac fibroblasts. Treatment of cardiac fibroblasts for 8 h with 10 micromol/l isoproterenol or 100 nmol/l dexamethasone increased angiotensinogen mRNA levels by 246 +/- 7% and 1406 +/- 207%, respectively. Over 24 h, dexamethasone and isoproterenol increased angiotensinogen secretion by 148 +/- 32% and 123 +/- 26%, respectively. Angiotensin II, which has been reported to be a positive regulator of angiotensinogen synthesis and secretion in liver, markedly attenuated the effects of dexamethasone and isoproterenol on angiotensinogen mRNA expression and secretion. In the presence of 1 micromol/l angiotensin II, the stimulation in angiotensinogen secretion observed with dexamethasone and isoproterenol was decreased by 62% and 76%, respectively. The negative feedback of angiotensin II on angiotensinogen expression was primarily mediated through the type one angiotensin II (AT1) receptor (IC50 = 0.30 +/- 0.02 nmol/l). In summary, results from this study demonstrate that angiotensinogen mRNA levels and protein secretion in cardiac fibroblasts are positively regulated by glucocorticoid and beta-adrenergic stimulation. In addition, angiotensinogen production by cardiac fibroblasts is under negative feedback control of angiotensin II.