The kallikrein-kinin system (KKS) contributes to retinal inflammation and neovascularization, notably in diabetic retinopathy (DR) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Bradykinin type 1 (B1R) and type 2 (B2R) receptors are G-protein-coupled receptors that sense and mediate the effects of kinins. While B2R is constitutively expressed and regulates a plethora of physiological processes, B1R is almost undetectable under physiological conditions and contributes to pathological inflammation. Several KKS components (kininogens, tissue and plasma kallikreins, and kinin receptors) are overexpressed in human and animal models of retinal diseases, and their inhibition, particularly B1R, reduces inflammation and pathological neovascularization. In this review, we provide an overview of the KKS with emphasis on kinin receptors in the healthy retina and their detrimental roles in DR and AMD. We highlight the crosstalk between the KKS and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which is known to be detrimental in ocular pathologies. Targeting the KKS, particularly the B1R, is a promising therapy in retinal diseases, and B1R may represent an effector of the detrimental effects of RAS (Ang II-AT1R).
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; diabetic retinopathy; kallikrein-kinin system; kinin receptors.