Active Ingredient History
Angiotensin is a peptide hormone that causes vasoconstriction and a subsequent increase in blood pressure. It is part of the renin-angiotensin system, which is a major target for drugs that lower blood pressure. Angiotensin also stimulates the release of aldosterone, another hormone, from the adrenal cortex. Aldosterone promotes sodium retention in the distal nephron, in the kidney, which also drives blood pressure up. Angiotensin is an oligopeptide and is a hormone and a powerful dipsogen. Angiotensin I is derived from the precursor molecule angiotensinogen, a serum globulin produced in the liver. Angiotensin I is converted to angiotensin II (AII) through removal of two C-terminal residues by the enzyme angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), primarily through ACE within the lung (but also present in endothelial cells and kidney epithelial cells). ACE found in other tissues of the body has no physiological role (ACE has a high density in the lung, but activation here promotes no vasoconstriction, angiotensin II is below physiological levels of action). Angiotensin II acts as an endocrine, autocrine/paracrine, and intracrine hormone. Angiotensin II has prothrombotic potential through adhesion and aggregation of platelets and stimulation of PAI-1 and PAI-2. When cardiac cell growth is stimulated, a local (autocrine-paracrine) renin-angiotensin system is activated in the cardiac myocyte, which stimulates cardiac cell growth through protein kinase C. The same system can be activated in smooth muscle cells in conditions of hypertension, atherosclerosis, or endothelial damage. Angiotensin II is the most important Gq stimulator of the heart during hypertrophy, compared to endothelin-1 and α1 adrenoreceptors. Angiotensin II increases thirst sensation (dipsogen) through the subfornical organ of the brain, decreases the response of the baroreceptor reflex, and increases the desire for salt. It increases secretion of ADH in the posterior pituitary and secretion of ACTH in the anterior pituitary. It also potentiates the release of norepinephrine by direct action on postganglionic sympathetic fibers. Angiotensin II acts on the adrenal cortex, causing it to release aldosterone, a hormone that causes the kidneys to retain sodium and lose potassium. Elevated plasma angiotensin II levels are responsible for the elevated aldosterone levels present during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Angiotensin II has a direct effect on the proximal tubules to increase Na+ reabsorption. It has a complex and variable effect on glomerular filtration and renal blood flow depending on the setting. Increases in systemic blood pressure will maintain renal perfusion pressure; however, constriction of the afferent and efferent glomerular arterioles will tend to restrict renal blood flow. The effect on the efferent arteriolar resistance is, however, markedly greater, in part due to its smaller basal diameter; this tends to increase glomerular capillary hydrostatic pressure and maintain glomerular filtration rate. A number of other mechanisms can affect renal blood flow and GFR. High concentrations of Angiotensin II can constrict the glomerular mesangium, reducing the area for glomerular filtration. Angiotensin II is a sensitizer to tubuloglomerular feedback, preventing an excessive rise in GFR. Angiotensin II causes the local release of prostaglandins, which, in turn, antagonize renal vasoconstriction. The net effect of these competing mechanisms on glomerular filtration will vary with the physiological and pharmacological environment. Angiotensin was independently isolated in Indianapolis and Argentina in the late 1930s (as 'angiotonin' and 'hypertensin', respectively) and subsequently characterised and synthesized by groups at the Cleveland Clinic and Ciba laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. NCATS
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