The renin-angiotensin system is important for cardiovascular homeostasis. Currently, therapies for different cardiovascular diseases are based on inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) or angiotensin II receptor blockade. Inhibition of ACE blocks metabolism of angiotensin-(1-7) to angiotensin-(1-5) and can lead to elevation of angiotensin-(1-7) levels in plasma and tissue. In animal models, angiotensin-(1-7) itself causes or enhances vasodilation and inhibits vascular contractions to angiotensin II. The function of angiotensin-(1-5) is unknown. We investigated whether angiotensin-(1-7) and angiotensin-(1-5) inhibit ACE or antagonize angiotensin-induced vasoconstrictions in humans. ACE activity in plasma and atrial tissue was inhibited by angiotensin-(1-7) up to 100%, with an IC(50) of 3.0 and 4.0 micromol/L, respectively. In human internal mammary arteries, contractions induced by angiotensin I and II and the non-ACE-specific substrate [Pro(11),D-Ala(12)]-angiotensin I were antagonized by angiotensin-(1-7) (10(-5) mol/L) in a noncompetitive way, with a 60% inhibition of the maximal response to angiotensin II. Contractions to ACE-specific substrate [Pro(10)]-angiotensin I were also inhibited, an effect only partly accounted for by antagonism of angiotensin II. Angiotensin-(1-5) inhibited plasma ACE activity with a potency equal to that of angiotensin I but had no effect on arterial contractions. In conclusion, angiotensin-(1-7) blocks angiotensin II-induced vasoconstriction and inhibits ACE in human cardiovascular tissues. Angiotensin-(1-5) only inhibits ACE. These results show that angiotensin-(1-7) may be an important modulator of the human renin-angiotensin system.
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