1. It has been suggested that local tissue renin—angiotensin systems may be activated in heart failure and that effects on such systems may, at least partially, explain the beneficial effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in this syndrome. To investigate these hypotheses, we examined expression of renin-angiotensin system components in several tissues in a rodent model of post-myocardial infarction (MI) heart failure, and analysed whether such expression is modified by ACE inhibitor treatment.

2. Four groups of rats (n = 8–12 per group) were studied 30 days after surgery: (A) sham-operated rats with no treatment, (B) rats with post-MI heart failure induced by ligation of the left coronary artery, (C) sham-operated rats treated with the ACE inhibitor perindopril (1.5 mg day−1 kg−1), and (D) rats as per B, but treated with perindopril. Expression of renin, angiotensinogen, ACE and angiotensin subtype 1 receptor was assessed by quantification of their respective mRNAs by Northern blotting.

3. Renal renin mRNA increased 2-fold in animals with MI (group B) compared with controls (group A) (P < 0.05) and between 50 and 100-fold after ACE inhibitor treatment (P < 0.001). No change in renin gene expression was found in any extra-renal site either following MI or after ACE inhibitor treatment. Hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA level was similar in all groups, but kidney angiotensinogen mRNA level was increased 1.6-fold (P < 0.01) in the groups receiving perindopril. ACE mRNA level in the lung was not affected by ACE inhibitor treatment but decreased by 50% following MI (groups B and D, P < 0.01). This was associated with a similar (50%, P < 0.01) fall in lung ACE activity and was correlated with the severity of heart failure. Angiotensin subtype 1 receptor mRNA level was not affected in any tissue by either MI or ACE inhibitor treatment.

4. We did not find a systematic activation of tissue renin-angiotensin systems, as assessed by steady-state mRNA levels of key components of the system in experimental post-MI heart failure, or a major effect of ACE inhibitor treatment on expression of these components. However, we observed tissue-specific changes in expression of selected components of the renin-angiotensin system in the kidney and the lung in post-MI heart failure and after ACE inhibitor treatment, which may be of relevance to the pathophysiology of the syndrome and the effects of ACE inhibition.

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