A potential therapeutic target for hypertension has been identified by researchers from Louisiana State University. They have discovered an enzyme ie the Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the brain that reportedly plays a critical role in the central regulation of blood pressure.
They showed that ACE2 helps preserve the function of a key spontaneous reflex involved in blood pressure regulation and confirms its potential as a target for the prevention or treatment of High Blood Pressure.
Beat-to-beat short-term regulation of blood pressure is provided by a spontaneous reflex called the baroreceptor reflex.
Receptors in the arteries sense blood pressure and relay the information to the central nervous system where a network of brain stem cells adjust vascular resistance and heart rate. Action of a hypertensive hormone - Angiotensin II - is known to interfere with that process.
During the study, the researchers demonstrated that chronically hypertensive mice showed dramatically decreased baroreceptor reflex sensitivity and ACE2 activity.
They found that by blocking action of A receptors AT1Rs, ACE2 activity increased.
"We now have evidence that brain ACE2 plays a critical role in baroreceptor reflex function and, consequently, in the prevention of hypertension," says Dr. Xia.
For further analysis, the researchers generated a triple-transgenic mouse model with increased ACE2 on a background of chronic hypertension.
In this model, they observed that the impaired baroreceptor reflex and other critical functions normalized, as did blood pressure.
"Beyond our discovery of ACE2, we have now confirmed its potential as a target for the treatment of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases," said co researcher Dr Eric Lazartigues, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.
The research is published in the issue of the peer reviewed journal, Hypertension.