Tissue renin-angiotensin systems: new insights from experimental animal models in hypertension research
Renin was first isolated in the kidney by Tigerstedt and Bergman over 100 years ago. Almost 50 additional years were necessary to isolate the renin substrate angiotensinogen and to show its cleavage to angiotensin (Ang). Further studies were then needed to demonstrate that Ang I is converted via an angiotensin-converting enzyme to Ang II. The circulating renin-angiotensin system, with blood pressure regulatory and aldosterone stimulatory roles, served well for decades. However, more recent information on Ang II and its action in terms of cell proliferation, hypertrophy, and hyperplasia as well as immune-modulatory and even intracellular functions, have focused attention on local Ang II generation and effects. These investigations necessarily began in the kidney, but quickly moved to other organs including the brain, heart, adrenal gland, and vessel wall and formed the basis for the concept of independent tissue renin-angiotensin systems. Both renin and Ang II have even been implicated in intracellular activities. This review presents some selected aspects of the historical development of this concept and summarizes discoveries relying primarily on animal models which demonstrate that Ang II is generated locally and acts in tissues as a local peptidergic system. Comprehensiveness in such an endeavor is not possible. We focus largely on work from our own group, not because the work is necessarily worthy of such scrutiny but rather because of our own familiarity with the contents.
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