[Pathophysiological and clinical implications of AT(1) and AT(2) angiotensin II receptors in metabolic disorders: hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes]

William B Strawn
Drugs 2002, 62: 31-41
The coexistence of hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes dramatically and synergistically increases the risk of microvascular and macrovascular complications in patients. A single unifying mechanism of increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by angiotensin II (Ang II) may serve as a causal link between hyperglycaemia and hypercholesterolaemia and many of the major pathways responsible for atherogenic and diabetic disorders. Several lines of evidence suggest a crucial role for Ang II-mediated oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of hyperglycaemia- and hypercholesterolemia-associated endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial dysfunction in these scenarios may be due to impaired nitric oxide (NO) synthesis and/or inactivation of endothelium-derived NO by ROS. That Ang II plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis and glomerulosclerosis is supported by numerous studies indicating that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) retard the progression of these diseases in both experimental animal models and humans. Evidence indicates that Ang II contributes to atherogenesis at both transcriptional and translational levels by upregulating adhesion molecule mRNA and protein synthesis. The recent demonstration of Ang II AT(2) receptors in the adult kidney and their potential to oppose the vasoconstrictive, antinatriuretic, and profibrotic properties of AT(1) receptors suggests that the balance of intrarenal AT(1) and AT(2) receptors may be important in determining the cellular responses to Ang II in diabetic nephropathy. Results of these studies suggest that hypercholesterolaemia and hyperglycaemia can induce a pro-inflammatory response within coronary arteries and the kidney glomerulus. This response involves production of well described macrophage chemotactic and adhesion molecules, which results in macrophage recruitment and the development of acute and chronic injury. Glomerular macrophage recruitment in experimental diabetes occurs via Ang II-stimulated monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 expression, suggesting that the renin-angiotensin system is an important regulator of local MCP-1 expression, and strongly implicating macrophage recruitment and activation in the pathogenesis of early diabetic glomerular injury. Diabetes-associated vascular complications may also involve an activation of the nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB by hyperglycaemia. NF-kappaB activation is related to AT(1) receptor-mediated pathways, and is believed to be dependent on activation of the Rho proteins belonging to the superfamily of low molecular weight guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) that regulate intracellular signalling. Preincubation of vascular smooth muscle cells with insulin doubled NF-kappaB transactivation stimulated by Ang II and hyperglycaemia, suggesting a potential mechanism for crosstalk between the renin-angiotensin system and hyperglycaemia. Taken together, these data suggest that activation of the renin-angiotensin system is a mechanism for the initiation and progression of inflammatory cell infiltration found in early changes common to both hypercholesterolaemia and hyperglycaemia. While the base of information regarding ARBs in high-risk patients with diabetes and hypercholesterolemia is lacking, preclinical and pilot trial data suggest that the ARBs are reno- and vasculoprotective in these patients. Therapeutic blockade of Ang II AT(1) receptors in diabetic and hypercholesterolaemic humans by ARBs, with concomitant elevation in plasma and tissue Ang II levels, may provide vascular and renal protection not only by reducing AT(1) receptor-mediated pro-oxidative effects, but also by unopposed AT(2) receptor stimulation.

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