Peripherally administered angiotensin II AT1 receptor antagonists are anti-stress compounds in vivo

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1148:360-6. doi: 10.1196/annals.1410.006.


Angiotensin II AT(1) receptor blockers (ARBs) are commonly used in the clinical treatment of hypertension. Subcutaneous or oral administration of the ARB candesartan inhibits brain as well as peripheral AT(1) receptors, indicating transport across the blood-brain barrier. Pretreatment with candesartan profoundly modifies the response to stress. The ARB prevents the peripheral and central sympathetic activation characteristic of isolation stress and abolishes the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis during isolation. In addition, candesartan prevents the isolation-induced decrease in cortical corticotropin-releasing factor 1 and benzodiazepine receptors induced by isolation. When administered before cold-restraint stress, candesartan totally prevents the production of gastric ulcerations. This preventive effect of candesartan is the consequence of profound anti-inflammatory effects, reduction of sympathetic stimulation, and preservation of blood flow to the gastric mucosa. The ARB does not reduce the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stimulation during cold restraint. Preservation of the effects of endogenous glucocorticoids is essential for protection of the gastric mucosa during cold restraint. Administration of the ARB to nonstressed rats decreases anxiety in the elevated plus-maze. Our results demonstrate that Angiotensin II, through AT(1) receptor stimulation, is a major stress hormone, and that ARBs, in addition to their antihypertensive effects, may be considered for the treatment of stress-related disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism
  • Angiotensin II / metabolism
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / administration & dosage
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / metabolism
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor Blockers
  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antihypertensive Agents / metabolism
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzimidazoles / administration & dosage
  • Benzimidazoles / metabolism
  • Benzimidazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Social Isolation
  • Stomach Ulcer / metabolism
  • Stomach Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Tetrazoles / administration & dosage
  • Tetrazoles / metabolism
  • Tetrazoles / therapeutic use*


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor Blockers
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 2
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Tetrazoles
  • Angiotensin II
  • CRF receptor type 1
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • candesartan