Hormonal regulation of the human adipose-tissue renin-angiotensin system: relationship to obesity and hypertension

J Hypertens. 2002 May;20(5):965-73. doi: 10.1097/00004872-200205000-00032.


Objective: Adipose tissue secretes vasoactive substances which may contribute to the development of obesity-related hypertension. The aim of this work was to study the expression of renin-angiotensin system genes in adipose tissue of obese hypertensive subjects and the hormonal regulation of these genes.

Design: Differential expression of renin-angiotensin system genes in subcutaneous abdominal adipocytes of 12 lean normotensive, eight obese normotensive, and 10 obese hypertensive women was determined in a cross-sectional study. In vitro hormonal regulation of these genes was studied in primary human adipocytes obtained by breast reduction from healthy women.

Methods: In the clinical study, 24-h ambulatory blood pressure measurement and anthropometry were used to characterize the volunteers, and adipocytes were obtained by subcutaneous needle biopsy. The in vitro regulation of renin-angiotensin system genes by hydrocortisone, insulin, thyroxin, estradiol and angiotensin II on primary cultured human mammary adipocytes was studied by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: While expression of the angiotensinogen gene was significantly lower in adipocytes from both obese groups, the renin, angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin II type 1 receptor genes were significantly upregulated in obese hypertensives. Hydrocortisone increased angiotensin II type 1 receptor gene and protein expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner in human adipocytes, but had no significant influence on other renin-angiotensin system genes. Expression of these genes was not significantly affected by any of the other tested hormones.

Conclusions: Renin-angiotensin system genes are differentially regulated in human obesity and hypertension. The role of the adipose-tissue renin-angiotensin system in the development of obesity-associated hypertension or metabolic disease clearly warrants further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Separation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Hormones / pharmacology
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / genetics
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Receptors, Angiotensin / genetics
  • Receptors, Angiotensin / metabolism
  • Renin / genetics
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / drug effects
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / genetics
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology*
  • Thinness
  • Up-Regulation


  • Hormones
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Receptors, Angiotensin
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • Renin
  • Hydrocortisone