Angiotensin-converting enzyme DD genotype in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension: increased frequency and association with preserved haemodynamics

J Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone Syst. 2003 Mar;4(1):27-30. doi: 10.3317/jraas.2003.003.


HYPOTHESIS/INTRODUCTION: A polymorphic marker within the angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE) gene has been associated with circulating and tissue ACE activity and with a variety of forms of cardiovascular disease. Since angiotensin II (Ang II) causes pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular and myocardial remodelling, we postulated a role for the renin-angiotensin system and the ACE DD genotype in the pathophysiology of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) and in the right ventricular response to pressure overload in these patients.

Methods and results: The incidence of the ACE DD genotype was evaluated in 60 patients with severe PPH compared with two normal control populations, a group of healthy population-based controls (n=158) and subjects found suitable for cardiac organ donation (n=79). Genomic DNA extracted from peripheral leukocytes was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction to detect polymorphic markers. Haemodynamics were determined by right heart catheterisation in a subset of the PPH patients. The frequency of the ACE DD genotype was 45% in the patients with PPH, compared with 24% in the organ donors, and 28% in population-based healthy controls (p=0.01 for chi-square test). Of the 32 PPH patients with baseline haemodynamics, 12 exhibited the ACE DD genotype and 20 were non-DD. While the mean pulmonary artery pressure and the duration of symptoms attributable to pulmonary hypertension was not different between the DD and non-DD groups, cardiac output was significantly lower (3.29+0.27 vs. 5.07+0.37 L/minute, p=0.002) and the mean right atrial pressure tended to be higher (8.85+1.29 vs. 4.92+1.27 mmHg, p=0.08) in the non-DD group. The reduction in cardiac output seen in the non-DD group was not due to a difference in heart rate, but to a significant reduction in stroke volume, consistent with a decreased contractile state. In addition, non-DD patients exhibited a significantly worse functional capacity (NYHA Class 3.14+0.12 vs. 2.40+0.28, p=0.02).

Conclusions: 1) The ACE DD genotype is significantly increased in patients with severe PPH compared with normal controls, suggesting that certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing pulmonary hypertension. 2) The ACE DD genotype is associated with preserved right ventricular function in PPH patients, supporting a compensatory myocardial or inotropic role for Ang II in the pressure overloaded right ventricle.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiotensin II / physiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / genetics*
  • Pulmonary Circulation
  • Ventricular Function, Right


  • Angiotensin II
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A