Localization of endothelin-converting enzyme-1 in human kidney

Am J Physiol. 1997 Nov;273(5):F749-56. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.1997.273.5.F749.


The distribution of endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) mRNA and protein was investigated in human kidney excised because of renal tumors. ECE-1 immunoreactivity was detected by immunohistochemistry throughout the different areas of the kidney in the vascular and tubular structures. In the cortex, ECE-1 immunostaining was present in the endothelial surface of arcuate and interlobular arteries and in arterioles. Weak specific immunoreactivity was present over some proximal and distal tubules. Few endothelial glomerular cells contained ECE-1 protein. In the medulla, ECE-1 immunoreactivity was observed in the vasa recta bundles and capillaries. ECE-1 immunostaining was also detected in the outer and inner medullary collecting ducts and thin limbs of Henle's loops. Immunohistochemical detection of the von Willebrand factor on adjacent sections confirmed the endothelial nature of the vascular cells that exhibited ECE-1 immunostaining. The distribution patterns of ECE-1 mRNA, investigated by in situ hybridization, appeared similar to that obtained by immunohistochemistry in the cortical and medullary vasculature and in different portions of the nephron. Northern blot and densitometric analyses demonstrated that ECE-1 mRNA levels were quantitatively similar in both the renal cortex and medulla. These results demonstrate that vascular endothelial and tubular epithelial cells in the cortex and medulla of the human kidney synthesize ECE-1, which, in turn, may play an important role in regulating endothelin production in physiological and pathological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arterioles / enzymology*
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / analysis*
  • Endothelin-Converting Enzymes
  • Endothelium, Vascular / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney / enzymology*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Cortex / blood supply
  • Kidney Medulla / blood supply
  • Kidney Medulla / enzymology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA Probes
  • Renal Artery / enzymology


  • RNA Probes
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • ECE1 protein, human
  • Endothelin-Converting Enzymes