Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Review: Novel roles of nuclear angiotensin receptors and signaling mechanisms

TanYa M. Gwathmey, Ebaa M. Alzayadneh, Karl D. Pendergrass, Mark C. Chappell


The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) constitutes an important hormonal system in the physiological regulation of blood pressure. The dysregulation of the RAS is considered a major influence in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease and other pathologies. Indeed, experimental and clinical evidence indicates that blockade of this system with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1R) antagonists is an effective therapy to attenuate hypertension and diabetic renal injury, and to improve heart failure. Originally defined as a circulating system, multiple tissues express a complete RAS, and compelling evidence now favors an intracellular system involved in cell signaling and function. Within the kidney, intracellular expression of the three predominant ANG receptor subtypes is evident in the nuclear compartment. The ANG type 1 receptor (AT1R) is coupled to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through the activation of phosphoinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) and PKC. In contrast, both ANG type 2 (AT2R) and ANG-(1–7) (AT7R) receptors stimulate nitric oxide (NO) formation, which may involve nuclear endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). Moreover, blockade of either ACE2—the enzyme that converts ANG II to ANG-(1–7)—or the AT7 receptor exacerbates the ANG II-ROS response on renal nuclei. Finally, in a model of fetal programmed hypertension, the nuclear ROS response to ANG II is enhanced, while both AT2 and AT7 stimulation of NO is attenuated, suggesting that an imbalance in the intracellular RAS may contribute to the development of programming events. We conclude that a functional intracellular or nuclear RAS may have important implications in the therapeutic approaches to cardiovascular disease.

  • renin-angiotensin system
  • angiotensin converting enzyme
  • ACE2
  • neprilysin
  • kidney
  • nuclei
  • AT1
  • AT2
  • AT7
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