Background: Gaucher disease is characterized by the activation of splenic and hepatic macrophages, accompanied by dramatically increased levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). To evaluate the source of the elevated blood ACE, we performed complete ACE phenotyping using blood, spleen and liver samples from patients with Gaucher disease and controls.
Methods: ACE phenotyping included 1) immunohistochemical staining for ACE; 2) measuring ACE activity with two substrates (HHL and ZPHL); 3) calculating the ratio of the rates of substrate hydrolysis (ZPHL/HHL ratio); 4) assessing the conformational fingerprint of ACE by evaluating the pattern of binding of monoclonal antibodies to 16 different ACE epitopes.
Results: We show that in patients with Gaucher disease, the dramatically increased levels of ACE originate from activated splenic and/or hepatic macrophages (Gaucher cells), and that both its conformational fingerprint and kinetic characteristics (ZPHL/HHL ratio) differ from controls and from patients with sarcoid granulomas. Furthermore, normal spleen was found to produce high levels of endogenous ACE inhibitors and a novel, tightly-bound 10-30 kDa ACE effector which is deficient in Gaucher spleen.
Conclusions: The conformation of ACE is tissue-specific. In Gaucher disease, ACE produced by activated splenic macrophages differs from that in hepatic macrophages, as well as from macrophages and dendritic cells in sarcoid granulomas. The observed differences are likely due to altered ACE glycosylation or sialylation in these diseased organs. The conformational differences in ACE may serve as a specific biomarker for Gaucher disease.
Keywords: ACE inhibitors; Angiotensin I-converting enzyme; CD143; Conformation; Gaucher disease; Monoclonal antibodies; Tissue specificity.
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