The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has emerged as a critical regulator of the renin–angiotensin system (RAS), which plays important roles in cardiovascular homeostasis by regulating vascular tone, fluid and electrolyte balance. ACE2 functions as a carboxymonopeptidase hydrolyzing the cleavage of a single C-terminal residue from Angiotensin-II (Ang-II), the key peptide hormone of RAS, to form Angiotensin-(1-7) (Ang-(1-7)), which binds to the G-protein–coupled Mas receptor and activates signaling pathways that counteract the pathways activated by Ang-II. ACE2 is expressed in a variety of tissues and overwhelming evidence substantiates the beneficial effects of enhancing ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas axis under many pathological conditions in these tissues in experimental models. This review will provide a succinct overview on current strategies to enhance ACE2 as therapeutic agent, and discuss limitations and future challenges. ACE2 also has other functions, such as acting as a co-factor for amino acid transport and being exploited by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) as cellular entry receptor, the implications of these functions in development of ACE2-based therapeutics will also be discussed.

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