Introduction: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a new member of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and it has been proposed that ACE2 is a potential therapeutic target for the control of cardiovascular disease. The effect of losartan on the ACE2 activity in atherosclerosis was studied.
Methods: Atherosclerosis was induced in New Zealand white rabbits by high-cholesterol diet for 3 months. An Angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor blocker (losartan, 25 mg/kg/d) was given for 3 months. ACE2 activity was measured by fluorescence assay and the extent of atherosclerosis was evaluated by H&E and Oil Red O staining. In addition, the effect of losartan on ACE2 activity in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in vitro was also evaluated.
Results: Losartan increased ACE2 activity in atherosclerosis in vivo and SMCs in vitro. Losartan inhibited atherosclerotic evolution. Addition of losartan blocked Ang II-induced down-regulation of ACE2 activity, and blockade of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) with PD98059 prevented Ang II-induced down-regulation of ACE2 activity.
Conclusions: The results showed that ACE2 activity was regulated in atherosclerotic plaque by losartan, which may play an important role in treatment of atherosclerosis. The mechanism involves Ang II-AT1R-mediated mitogen-activated protein kinases, MAPKs (MAPKs) signaling pathway.
Keywords: Ang-(1-7); Atherosclerotic plaque; angiotensin-converting enzyme 2; losartan; signaling pathway.
© The Author(s) 2014.