Monocytic angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 relates to atherosclerosis in patients with chronic kidney disease

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Abstract

Background:

Increased levels of monocytic angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) found in haemodialysis (HD) patients may directly participate in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. We demonstrated recently that uremia triggers the development of highly pro-atherogenic monocytes via an angiotensin II (AngII)-dependent mechanism. Opposing actions of the AngII-degrading ACE2 remain largely unknown. We examined the status of both ACEs and related receptors in circulating leukocytes of HD, not-dialyzed CKD and healthy individuals. Furthermore, we tested the possible impact of monocytic ACEs on atherogenesis and behaviour of the cells under conditions mimicking chronic renal failure.

Methods:

Expression of ACE, ACE2, AT1R, AT2R and MASR was investigated on circulating leukocytes from 71 HD (62 ± 14 years), 24 CKD stage 3-5 (74 ± 10 years) patients and 37 healthy control subjects (53 ± 6 years) and isolated healthy monocytes treated with normal and uremic serum. Analyses of ACE, ACE2, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, MCSF and endothelial adhesion were tested on ACE-overexpressing THP-1 monocytes treated with captopril or losartan. ACE2-overexpressing monocytes were subjected to transmigration and adhesion assays and investigated for MCP-1, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, MCSF, AT1R and AT2R expression.

Results:

The ACE mRNA level was significantly increased in HD and CKD stage 3-5 leukocytes. Correspondingly, ACE2 was downregulated and AngII as well as MAS receptor expression was upregulated in these cells. Healthy monocytes preconditioned with uremic serum reflected the same expressional regulation of ACE/ACE2, MAS and AngII receptors as those observed in HD and CKD stage 3-5 leukocytes. Overexpression of monocytic ACE dramatically decreased levels of ACE2 and induced a pro-atherogenic phenotype, partly reversed by AngII-modifying treatments, leading to an increase in ACE2. Overexpression of ACE2 in monocytes led to reduced endothelial adhesion, transmigration and downregulation of adhesion-related molecules.

Conclusions:

HD and not-dialyzed CKD stage 3-5 patients show enhanced ACE and decreased ACE2 expression on monocytes. This constellation renders the cells endothelial adhesive and likely supports the development of atherosclerosis.

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