AT2 receptors in cardiovascular and renal diseases
The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays an important role in the initiation and progression of cardiovascular and renal diseases. These actions mediated by AT1 receptor (AT1R) are well established and led to development of selective AT1R blockers (ARBs). In contrast, there is scientific evidence that AT2 receptor (AT2R) mediates effects different from and often opposing those of the AT1R. Meagrely expressed in healthy tissue the AT2R is upregulated in injuries providing an endogenous protection to inflammatory, oxidative and apoptotic processes. Interestingly the beneficial effects mediated by AT2R can be further enhanced by pharmacological intervention using the recently developed AT2R agonists. This review article summarizes our current knowledge about regulation, signalling and effects mediated by AT2R in health and disease, with emphasis on cardiac and renal systems. At the end a novel concept of natural protective systems will be introduced and discussed as an attractive target in drug development.