Background and objectives: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) converts angiotensin II (Ang1-8) to angiotensin 1-7 (Ang1-7), a functional antagonist of Ang1-8, with vasodilatory, antiproliferative, antiangiogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In conditions with an unbalanced renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system with elevated Ang1-8, administration of ACE2 has shown promising effects in a variety of animal models. Enhancing ACE2 activity by exogenous administration of ACE2 might also be beneficial in human diseases with pathologically elevated Ang1-8. As a first step we performed a first-in-man study to determine pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, safety, and tolerability of recombinant ACE2 in healthy volunteers.
Methods: Recombinant human ACE2 (rhACE2) was administered intravenously to healthy human subjects in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-dose, dose-escalation study followed by an open-label multiple-dose study. ACE2 concentrations were determined by quantifying ACE2 activity and ACE2 content in plasma samples. Concentrations of the angiotensin system effector peptides Ang1-8, Ang1-7, and Ang1-5 were determined using a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method.
Results: Single rhACE2 doses of 100-1,200 μg/kg caused a dose-dependent increase of systemic exposure with biphasic elimination and a dose-independent terminal half-life of 10 h. In all single-dose cohorts, Ang1-8 decreased within 30 min postinfusion, angiotensin 1-7 (Ang1-7) either increased (100 and 200 μg/kg doses), decreased, or remained unchanged (400-1,200 μg/kg doses), whereas angiotensin 1-5 (Ang1-5) transiently increased for all doses investigated. With the exception of the lowest rhACE2 dose, the decrease in Ang1-8 levels lasted for at least 24 h. Repeated dosing (400 μg/kg for 3 or 6 days) caused only minimal accumulation of ACE2, and Ang1-8 levels were suppressed over the whole application period.
Conclusions: Administration of rhACE2 was well tolerated by healthy human subjects. Exposure was dose dependent with a dose-independent terminal elimination half-life in the range of 10 h. Despite marked changes in angiotensin system peptide concentrations, cardiovascular effects were absent, suggesting the presence of effective compensatory mechanisms in healthy volunteers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00886353.