ACE2 and Microbiota: Emerging Targets for Cardiopulmonary Disease Therapy.
ABSTRACT: The health of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems is inextricably linked to the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Physiologically speaking, a balance between the vasodeleterious (Angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE]/Angiotensin II [Ang II]/Ang II type 1 receptor [AT1R]) and vasoprotective (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 [ACE2]/Angiotensin-(1-7) [Ang-(1-7)]/Mas receptor [MasR]) components of the RAS is critical for cardiopulmonary homeostasis. Upregulation of the ACE/Ang II/AT1R axis shifts the system toward vasoconstriction, proliferation, hypertrophy, inflammation, and fibrosis, all factors that contribute to the development and progression of cardiopulmonary diseases. Conversely, stimulation of the vasoprotective ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/MasR axis produces a counter-regulatory response that promotes cardiovascular health. Current research is investigating novel strategies to augment actions of the vasoprotective RAS components, particularly ACE2, in order to treat various pathologies. Although multiple approaches to increase the activity of ACE2 have displayed beneficial effects against experimental disease models, the mechanisms behind its protective actions remain incompletely understood. Recent work demonstrating a non-catalytic role for ACE2 in amino acid transport in the gut has led us to speculate that the therapeutic effects of ACE2 can be mediated, in part, by its actions on the gastrointestinal tract and/or gut microbiome. This is consistent with emerging data which suggest that dysbiosis of the gut and lung microbiomes is associated with cardiopulmonary disease. This review highlights new developments in the protective actions of ACE2 against cardiopulmonary disorders, discusses innovative approaches to targeting ACE2 for therapy, and explores an evolving role for gut and lung microbiota in cardiopulmonary health.
Project description:While effective treatments for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are lacking, mechanical lung ventilation can sustain adequate gas exchange in critically ill patients with respiratory failure due to ARDS. However, as a result of the phenomenon of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI), there is an increasing need to seek beneficial pharmacological therapies for ARDS. Recent studies have suggested the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which consists of the ACE/Ang-II/AT1R axis and ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/MasR axis, plays a dual role in the pathogenesis of ARDS and VILI. This review highlights the deleterious action of ACE/Ang-II/AT1R axis and the beneficial role of ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/MasR axis, as well as AT2R, in VILI and ARDS, and also discusses the possibility of targeting RAS components with pharmacological interventions to improve outcomes in ARDS.
Project description:Hypertension is one of the major predisposing factors for neurodegenerative disease characterized with activated renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in both periphery and brain. Vitamin D (VitD) is recently recognized as a pleiotropic hormone with strong neuroprotective properties. While multiple lines of evidence suggest that VitD can act on RAS, the evidence concerning the crosstalk between VitD and RAS in the brain is limited. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate whether VitD can modulate brain RAS to trigger neuroprotective actions in the brain of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Our data showed that calcitriol treatment induced VDR expression and inhibited neural death in the prefrontal cortex of SHR. Sustained calcitriol administration also inhibited microglia M1 polarization, but enhanced M2 polarization, accompanied with decreased expression of proinflammatory cytokines. We then further explored the potential mechanisms and showed that SHR exhibited overactivated classical RAS with increased expression of angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor type 1 (AT1), angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and Ang II production, whereas the counteracting arm of traditional RAS, ACE2/Ang(1-7)/MasR, was impaired in the SHR brain. Calcitriol nonsignificantly suppressed AT1 and ACE but markedly reduced Ang II formation. Intriguingly, calcitriol exerted pronouncedly impact on ACE2/Ang(1-7)/MasR axis with enhanced expression of ACE2, MasR and Ang(1-7) generation. Meanwhile, calcitriol ameliorated the overactivation of NADPH-oxidase (Nox), the downstream of RAS, in SHR, and also mitigated oxidative stress. In microglial (BV2) cells, we further found that calcitriol induced ACE2 and MasR with no significant impact on ACE and AT1. In accordance, calcitriol also attenuated Ang II-induced Nox activation and ROS production, and shifted the microglia polarization from M1 to M2 phenotype. However, co-treatment with A779, a specific MasR antagonist, abrogated the antioxidant and neuroimmune modulating actions of VitD. These findings strongly indicate the involvement of ACE2/Ang(1-7)/MasR pathway in the neuroprotective mechanisms of VitD in the hypertensive brain.
Project description:Hypertension may result from high-fat (HF) diet induced-obesity and overexposure to glucocorticoids in utero. Recent studies demonstrated the potent contribution of adipose tissue's renin-angiotensin system (RAS) to systemic RAS, which plays a key role in regulating blood pressure (BP). In this study, we investigated the effects of prenatal dexamethasone (DEX) exposure and postnatal HF diet on RAS of adipose tissue.RAS and BP of 6-month old rats exposed to prenatal DEX and/or postnatal HF diet were examined.Prenatal DEX plus postnatal HF exerted a synergistic effect on systolic BP. Prenatal DEX exposure suppressed plasma angiotensin (ANG) I and ANG II, whereas postnatal HF suppressed plasma ANG-(1-7) level. Prenatal DEX increased prorenin receptor and renin levels, but suppressed angiotensinogen (AGT) and angiotensin-converting-enzyme 1 (ACE1) mRNA expressions in adipose tissue. Postnatal HF increased AGT mRNA expression, but suppressed prorenin receptor, renin, ACE2, ANG II type 2 receptor (AT2R), and Mas receptor (MasR) mRNA expression levels.Prenatal GC exposure altered the ACE1/ANG II/ANG II type 1 receptor (AT1R) axis, whereas postnatal HF negatively impacted the ACE2/ANG-(1-7)/MasR axis. Prenatal DEX exposure and postnatal HF synergistically elevated BP through a distinct programming mechanism of systemic and adipose RAS. Adipose RAS might be a target for precise hypertension treatment.
Project description:CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) are vasculogenic and hypoxia is a strong stimulus for the vasoreparative functions of these cells. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)/angiotensin-(1-7)/Mas receptor (MasR) pathway stimulates vasoprotective functions of CD34+ cells. This study tested if ACE2 and MasR are involved in the hypoxic stimulation of CD34+ cells. Cells were isolated from circulating mononuclear cells derived from healthy subjects (n?=?46) and were exposed to normoxia (20% O2 ) or hypoxia (1% O2 ). Luciferase reporter assays were carried out in cells transduced with lentivirus carrying ACE2- or MasR- or a scramble-3'-untranslated region gene with a firefly luciferase reporter. Expressions or activities of ACE, angiotensin receptor Type 1 (AT1R), ACE2, and MasR were determined. In vitro observations were verified in HSPCs derived from mice undergoing hindlimb ischemia (HLI). In vitro exposure to hypoxia-increased proliferation and migration of CD34+ cells in basal conditions or in response to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or stromal-derived factor 1? (SDF) compared with normoxia. Expression of ACE2 or MasR was increased relative to normoxia while ACE or AT1R expressions were unaltered. Luciferase activity was increased by hypoxia in cells transfected with the luciferase reporter plasmids coding for the ACE2- or MasR promoters relatively to the control. The effects of hypoxia were mimicked by VEGF or SDF under normoxia. Hypoxia-induced ADAM17-dependent shedding of functional ACE2 fragments. In mice undergoing HLI, increased expression/activity of ACE2 and MasR were observed in the circulating HSPCs. This study provides compelling evidence for the hypoxic upregulation of ACE2 and MasR in CD34+ cells, which likely contributes to vascular repair.
Project description:The renin-angiotensin system (RAS), especially the angiotensin II (Ang II)/angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) axis, plays an important role in the aging process of the kidney, through increased tissue reactive oxygen species production and progressively increased oxidative stress. In contrast, the angiotensin 1-7 (Ang 1-7)/Mas receptor (MasR) axis, which counteracts the effects of Ang II, is protective for end-organ damage. To evaluate the ability of resveratrol (RSV) to modulate the RAS in aging kidneys, eighteen-month-old male C57BL/6 mice were divided into two groups that received either normal mouse chow or chow containing resveratrol, for six months. Renal expressions of RAS components, as well as pro- and antioxidant enzymes, were measured and mouse kidneys were isolated for histopathology. Resveratrol-treated mice demonstrated better renal function and reduced albuminuria, with improved renal histologic findings. Resveratrol suppressed the Ang II/AT1R axis and enhanced the AT2R/Ang 1-7/MasR axis. Additionally, the expression of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 4, 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, 3-nitrotyrosine, collagen IV, and fibronectin was decreased, while the expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and superoxide dismutase 2 was increased by resveratrol treatment. These findings demonstrate that resveratrol exerts protective effects on aging kidneys by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis, through Ang II suppression and MasR activation.
Project description:Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a transmembrane glycoprotein, is an important part of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). In the COVID-19 epidemic, it was found to be the receptor of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2). ACE2 maintains homeostasis by inhibiting the Ang II-AT1R axis and activating the Ang I (1-7)-MasR axis, protecting against lung, heart and kidney injury. In addition, ACE2 helps transport amino acids across the membrane. ACE2 sheds from the membrane, producing soluble ACE2 (sACE2). Previous studies have pointed out that sACE2 plays a role in the pathology of the disease, but the underlying mechanism is not yet clear. Recent studies have confirmed that sACE2 can also act as the receptor of SARS-COV-2, mediating viral entry into the cell and then spreading to the infective area. Elevated concentrations of sACE2 are more related to disease. Recombinant human ACE2, an exogenous soluble ACE2, can be used to supplement endogenous ACE2. It may represent a potent COVID-19 treatment in the future. However, the specific administration concentration needs to be further investigated.
Project description:High sodium intake is known to regulate the renal renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and is a risk factor for the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension. The complex nature of the RAS reveals that its various components may have opposing effects on natriuresis and blood pressure regulation. We hypothesized that high sodium intake differentially regulates and shifts a balance between opposing components of the renal RAS, namely, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-ANG II-type 1 ANG II receptor (AT(1)R) vs. AT(2)-ACE2-angiotensinogen (Ang) (1-7)-Mas receptor (MasR), in obesity. In the present study, we evaluated protein and/or mRNA expression of angiotensinogen, renin, AT(1A/B)R, ACE, AT(2)R, ACE2, and MasR in the kidney cortex following 2 wk of a 8% high-sodium (HS) diet in lean and obese Zucker rats. The expression data showed that the relative expression pattern of ACE and AT(1B)R increased, renin decreased, and ACE2, AT(2)R, and MasR remained unaltered in HS-fed lean rats. On the other hand, HS intake in obese rats caused an increase in the cortical expression of ACE, a decrease in ACE2, AT(2)R, and MasR, and no changes in renin and AT(1)R. The cortical levels of ANG II increased by threefold in obese rats on HS compared with obese rats on normal salt (NS), which was not different than in lean rats. The HS intake elevated mean arterial pressure in obese rats (27 mmHg) more than in lean rats (16 mmHg). This study suggests that HS intake causes a pronounced increase in ANG II levels and a reduction in the expression of the ACE2-AT(2)R-MasR axis in the kidney cortex of obese rats. We conclude that such changes may lead to the potentially unopposed function of AT(1)R, with its various cellular and physiological roles, including the contribution to the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension.
Project description:We investigated the role of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) in renin-angiotensin system (RAS) gene expression in renal proximal tubule cells (RPTCs) and in the development of systemic hypertension and kidney injury in diabetic Akita mice. We used adult male Akita Nrf2 knockout mice and Akita mice treated with trigonelline (an Nrf2 inhibitor) or oltipraz (an Nrf2 activator). We also examined rat immortalized RPTCs (IRPTCs) stably transfected with control plasmids or plasmids containing rat angiotensinogen (Agt), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (Ace2), or angiotensin 1-7 (Ang 1-7) receptor (MasR) gene promoters. Genetic deletion of Nrf2 or pharmacological inhibition of Nrf2 in Akita mice attenuated hypertension, renal injury, tubulointerstitial fibrosis, and the urinary albumin/creatinine ratio. Furthermore, loss of Nrf2 upregulated RPTC Ace2 and MasR expression, increased urinary Ang 1-7 levels, and downregulated expression of Agt, ACE, and profibrotic genes in Akita mice. In cultured IRPTCs, Nrf2 small interfering RNA transfection or trigonelline treatment prevented high glucose stimulation of Nrf2 nuclear translocation, Agt, and ACE transcription with augmentation of Ace2 and MasR transcription, which was reversed by oltipraz. These data identify a mechanism, Nrf2-mediated stimulation of intrarenal RAS gene expression, by which chronic hyperglycemia induces hypertension and renal injury in diabetes.
Project description:Individuals with diabetes suffering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exhibit increased morbidity and mortality compared with individuals without diabetes. In this Perspective, we critically evaluate and argue that this is due to a dysregulated renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Previously, we have shown that loss of angiotensin-I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) promotes the ACE/angiotensin-II (Ang-II)/angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1R) axis, a deleterious arm of RAS, unleashing its detrimental effects in diabetes. As suggested by the recent reports regarding the pathogenesis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), upon entry into the host, this virus binds to the extracellular domain of ACE2 in nasal, lung, and gut epithelial cells through its spike glycoprotein subunit S1. We put forth the hypothesis that during this process, reduced ACE2 could result in clinical deterioration in COVID-19 patients with diabetes via aggravating Ang-II-dependent pathways and partly driving not only lung but also bone marrow and gastrointestinal pathology. In addition to systemic RAS, the pathophysiological response of the local RAS within the intestinal epithelium involves mechanisms distinct from that of RAS in the lung; however, both lung and gut are impacted by diabetes-induced bone marrow dysfunction. Careful targeting of the systemic and tissue RAS may optimize clinical outcomes in subjects with diabetes infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Project description:COVID-19 is spreading globally with the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-2 serving as the entry point of SARS-CoV-2 virus. This raised concerns how ACE2 and the Renin-Angiotensin (Ang)-System (RAS) are to be dealt with given their roles in hypertension and their involvement in COVID-19's morbidity and mortality. Specifically, increased ACE2 expression in response to treatment with ACE inhibitors (ACEi) and Ang II receptor blockers (ARBs) might theoretically increase COVID-19 risk by increasing SARS-CoV-2 binding sites. However, ACE2 is part of the protective counter-regulatory ACE2-Ang1-7-MasR axis, which opposes the classical ACE-AngII-AT1R regulatory axis. We used Gitelman's and Bartter's syndromes (GS/BS) patients, rare genetic tubulopathies that have endogenously increased levels of ACE2, to explore these issues. Specifically, 128 genetically confirmed GS/BS patients, living in Lombardia, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, the Northern Italy hot spots for COVID-19, were surveyed <i>via</i> telephone survey regarding COVID-19. The survey found no COVID-19 infection and absence of COVID-19 symptoms in any patient. Comparison analysis with the prevalence of COVID-19 in those regions showed statistical significance (<i>p</i> < 0.01). The results of the study strongly suggest that increased ACE2 does not increase risk of COVID-19 and that ACEi and ARBs by blocking excessive AT1R-mediated Ang II activation might favor the increase of ACE2-derived Ang 1-7. GS/BS patients' increased ACE2 and Ang 1-7 levels and their characteristic chronic metabolic alkalosis suggest a mechanism similar to that of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine effect on ACE2 glycosylation alteration with resulting SARS-COV-2 binding inhibition and blockage/inhibition of viral entry. Studies from our laboratory are ongoing to explore GS/BS ACE2 glycosylation and other potential beneficial effects of BS/GS. Importantly, the absence of frank COVID-19 or of COVID-19 symptoms in the BS/GS patients cohort, given no direct ascertainment of COVID-19 status, suggest that elevated ACE2 levels as found in GS/BS patients at a minimum render COVID-19 infection asymptomatic and thus that COVID-19 symptoms are driven by ACE2 levels.