JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Angiotensin receptor agonistic autoantibodies and hypertension: preeclampsia and beyond

Yang Xia, Rodney E Kellems
Circulation Research 2013 June 21, 113 (1): 78-87
23788505
Hypertensive disorders are life-threatening diseases with high morbidity and mortality, affecting billions of individuals worldwide. A multitude of underlying conditions may contribute to hypertension, thus the need for a plethora of treatment options to identify the approach that best meets the needs of individual patients. A growing body of evidence indicates that (1) autoantibodies that bind to and activate the major angiotensin II type I (AT₁) receptor exist in the circulation of patients with hypertensive disorders, (2) these autoantibodies contribute to disease pathophysiology, (3) antibody titers correlate to the severity of the disease, and (4) efforts to block or remove these pathogenic autoantibodies have therapeutic potential. These autoantibodies, termed AT₁ agonistic autoantibodies have been extensively characterized in preeclampsia, a life-threatening hypertensive condition of pregnancy. As reviewed here, these autoantibodies cause symptoms of preeclampsia when injected into pregnant mice. Somewhat surprisingly, these auto antibodies also appear in 3 animal models of preeclampsia. However, the occurrence of AT₁ agonistic autoantibodies is not restricted to pregnancy. These autoantibodies are prevalent among kidney transplant recipients who develop severe transplant rejection and malignant hypertension during the first week after transplantation. AT₁ agonistic autoantibodies are also highly abundant among a group of patients with essential hypertension that are refractory to standard therapy. More recently these autoantibodies have been seen in patients with the autoimmune disease, systemic sclerosis. These 3 examples extend the clinical impact of AT₁ agonistic autoantibodies beyond pregnancy. Research reviewed here raises the intriguing possibility that preeclampsia and other hypertensive conditions are autoimmune diseases characterized by the presence of pathogenic autoantibodies that activate the major angiotensin receptor, AT₁. These pathogenic autoantibodies could serve as presymptomatic biomarkers and therapeutic targets, thereby providing improved medical management for these conditions.

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