Airway remodelling occurs in chronic asthma. Angiotensin II promotes growth in cardiovascular remodelling. Since the renin–angiotensin system is activated in acute severe asthma, we hypothesized that angiotensin II has a role in airway remodelling. A total of 14 young male Wistar rats were randomly divided into two groups. All received 2-week infusions of bromodeoxyuridine, and the experimental group also received angiotensin II. Blood pressure rose in the angiotensin II-infused group [mean levels: pre-infusion, 134.9 (S.D. 14.7) mmHg; post-infusion, 197.1 (22.5) mmHg], and expression of renin mRNA in the renal juxtaglomerular cells was suppressed in these animals. The proportion of bromodeoxyuridine-positive cell nuclei was no different in the airways of control and angiotensin II-infused animals for smooth muscle [mean bromodeoxyuridine index: control, 8.6% (S.E.M. 1.1%); angiotensin II, 9.3% (1.1%)], epithelium [control, 16.7% (2.3%); angiotensin II, 16.0% (2.2%)] and adventitia [control, 26.4% (2.2%); angiotensin II, 26.6% (2.4%)]. In the arteries, bromodeoxyuridine indices were higher in the angiotensin II-infused rats [18.4% (2.3%)] than in the control animals [9.4% (2.8%)], but no difference was found in the veins [12% (2.9%) and 11.4% (2.6%) respectively]. Morphometry of the airway wall and mesenteric vasculature was no different in the two groups. Therefore a 2-week infusion of angiotensin II increases blood pressure and DNA synthesis in the mesenteric arteries, but does not cause airway remodelling, in the rat.

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