Location and secretion of brain angiotensinogen

Regul Pept. 1995 May 4;57(1):1-18. doi: 10.1016/0167-0115(95)00015-4.


Angiotensinogen is a glycoprotein with intriguing structural similarities to the serine proteinase inhibitors but with only one known function: to act as a substrate in the enzymatic generation of angiotensin peptides. It is expressed as a constitutive protein by the liver and various other tissues, including the brain. It is in this tissue that the expression of angiotensinogen attains its most complex and controversial manifestations. In late gestation, an unfolding of cellular expression occurs, starting at an epicentre in the eppendymal and astroglia cells of the hypothalamus, which rapidly and sequentially spreads to sub-cortical and then cortical regions, concentrating at sites of electrolyte, fluid and pressure regulation. This initial burgeoning of astroglial angiotensinogen is trailed by a wave of neuronal expression in various limbic and sensorimotor regions of the brain. The predominance of AT2 receptors in these regions suggests that the RAS actions are mediated by AT2 receptors. The angiotensinogen found in the CSF and secreted by cultures of glia and neurones is similar to the two major molecular sizes found in plasma. However, by electrophoretic separation on the basis of charge imparted by differential glycosylation, it can be shown that glia and neurones secrete distinct forms. The expression of different forms is under hormonal regulation. If these structural forms are shown to affect function, then the resulting ramifications may extend to pathological conditions, such as hypertension. Primary cell cultures of astrocytes secrete angiotensinogen constitutively and in a region-specific manner related to the size of the sub-population of secretory cells. Neurone cultures secrete angiotensinogen at about 25% the rate of hypothalamic astrocytes. The use of RT-PCR shows that both cell types express angiotensinogen mRNA. There is still an unresolved mismatch between these data and in situ hybridization histochemistry which shows expression limited to astrocytes but it is suggested that changes to more appropriate techniques will resolve any outstanding discrepancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Angiotensinogen / analysis*
  • Angiotensinogen / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry


  • Angiotensinogen