Background: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)2, a homologue of ACE, which is insensitive to ACE inhibitors and forms angiotensin-(1-7) [Ang-(1-7)] from angiotensin II (Ang II) with high efficiency was investigated in response to chronic blockade with lisinopril, losartan, and both drugs combined.
Methods: Thirty-six adult Lewis rats were assigned to receive these medications in their drinking water for 2 weeks while their arterial pressure, water intake, and urine volume were recorded throughout the study. Measures of renal excretory variables included assessing excretion rates of angiotensin I (Ang I), Ang II and Ang-(1-7) while blood collected at the completion of the study was used for measures of plasma angiotensin concentrations. Samples from renal cortex were assayed for renin, angiotensinogen (Aogen), neprilysin, angiotensin types 1 and 2 (AT(1) and AT(2)) and mas receptor mRNAs by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase (RT) real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). ACE2 activity was determined as the rate of Ang II conversion into Ang-(1-7).
Results: Comparable blood pressure reductions were obtained in rats medicated with either lisinopril or losartan, whereas both drugs produced a greater decrease in arterial pressure. Polyuria was recorded in all three forms of treatment associated with reduced osmolality but no changes in creatinine excretion. Lisinopril augmented plasma levels and urinary excretion rates of Ang I and Ang-(1-7), while plasma Ang II was reduced with no effect on urinary Ang II. Losartan produced similar changes in plasma and urinary Ang-(1-7) but increased plasma Ang II without changing urinary Ang II excretion. Combination therapy mimicked the effects obtained with lisinopril on plasma and urinary Ang I and Ang-(1-7) levels. Renal cortex Aogen mRNA increased in rats medicated with either lisinopril or the combination, whereas all three treatments produced a robust increase in renal renin mRNA. In contrast, ACE, ACE2, neprilysin, AT(1), and mas receptor mRNAs remained unchanged with all three treatments. Renal cortex ACE2 activity was significantly augmented in rats medicated with lisinopril or losartan but not changed in those given the combination.
Conclusion: Our data revealed a role for ACE2 in Ang-(1-7) formation from Ang II in the kidney of normotensive rats as primarily reflected by the increased ACE2 activity measured in renal membranes from the kidney of rats given either lisinopril or losartan. The data further indicate that increased levels of Ang-(1-7) in the urine of animals after ACE inhibition or AT(1) receptor blockade reflect an intrarenal formation of the heptapeptide.