We recently reported the presence of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)2 in brain regions controlling cardiovascular function; however, the role of ACE2 in blood pressure regulation remains unclear because of the lack of specific tools to investigate its function. We hypothesized that ACE2 could play a pivotal role in the central regulation of cardiovascular function by regulating other renin-angiotensin system components. To test this hypothesis, we generated an adenovirus expressing the human ACE2 cDNA upstream of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) reporter gene (Ad-hACE2-eGFP). In vitro characterization shows that neuronal cells infected with Ad-hACE2-eGFP (10 to 100 multiplicities of infection), but not Ad-eGFP (100 multiplicities of infection), exhibit dose-dependent ACE2 expression and activity. In addition, an active secreted form was detected in the conditioned medium. In vivo, Ad-hACE2-eGFP infection (2×10 plaque-forming units intracerebroventricularly) produced time-dependent expression and activity (with a peak at 7 days) in the mouse subfornical organ. More importantly, 7 days after virus infection, the pressor response to angiotensin (Ang) II (200 pmol intracerebroventricularly) was significantly reduced in Ad-hACE2-eGFP-treated mice compared with controls. Furthermore, subfornical organ-targeted ACE2 overexpression dramatically reduced the Ang II-mediated drinking response. Interestingly, ACE2 overexpression was associated with downregulation of the Ang II type 1 receptor expression both in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that ACE2 overexpression in the subfornical organ impairs Ang II-mediated pressor and drinking responses at least by inhibiting the Ang II type 1 receptor expression. Taken together, our results show that ACE2 plays a pivotal role in the central regulation of blood pressure and volume homeostasis, offering a new target for the treatment of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Blood pressure
- Gene therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine