A collective century of discoveries establishes the importance of the renin angiotensin aldosterone system in maintaining blood pressure, fluid volume and electrolyte homeostasis via autocrine, paracrine and endocrine signaling. While research continues to yield new functions of angiotensin II and angiotensin-(1-7), the gap between basic research and clinical application of these new findings is widening. As data accumulates on the efficacy of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers as drugs of fundamental importance in the treatment of cardiovascular and renal disorders, it is becoming apparent that the achieved clinical benefits is suboptimal and surprisingly no different than what can be achieved with other therapeutic interventions. We discuss this issue and summarize new pathways and mechanisms effecting the synthesis and actions of angiotensin II. The presence of renin-independent non-canonical pathways for angiotensin II production are largely unaffected by agents inhibiting renin angiotensin system activity. Hence, new efforts should be directed to develop drugs that can effectively block the synthesis and/or action of intracellular angiotensin II. Improved drug penetration into cardiac or renal sites of disease, inhibiting chymase the primary angiotensin II forming enzyme in the human heart, and/or inhibiting angiotensinogen synthesis would all be more effective strategies to inhibit the system. Additionally, given the role of angiotensin II in the maintenance of renal homeostatic mechanisms, any new inhibitor should possess greater selectivity of targeting pathogenic angiotensin II signaling processes and thereby limit inappropriate inhibition.
Keywords: Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors; Angiotensin receptor blockers; Angiotensin-(1–12); Angiotensin-(1–7); Heart failure; Hypertension.
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