Standard Article

Nonclassical Renin-Angiotensin System and Renal Function

  1. Mark C. Chappell

Published Online: 1 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c120002

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Chappell, M. C. 2012. Nonclassical Renin-Angiotensin System and Renal Function. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:2733–2752.

Author Information

  1. The Hypertension & Vascular Disease Center, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 OCT 2012


The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) constitutes one of the most important hormonal systems in the physiological regulation of blood pressure through renal and nonrenal mechanisms. Indeed, dysregulation of the RAS is considered a major factor in the development of cardiovascular pathologies, including kidney injury, and blockade of this system by the inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) or blockade of the angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1R) by selective antagonists constitutes an effective therapeutic regimen. It is now apparent with the identification of multiple components of the RAS within the kidney and other tissues that the system is actually composed of different angiotensin peptides with diverse biological actions mediated by distinct receptor subtypes. The classic RAS can be defined as the ACE-Ang II-AT1R axis that promotes vasoconstriction, water intake, sodium retention, and other mechanisms to maintain blood pressure, as well as increase oxidative stress, fibrosis, cellular growth, and inflammation in pathological conditions. In contrast, the nonclassical RAS composed primarily of the AngII/Ang III-AT2R pathway and the ACE2-Ang-(1-7)-AT7R axis generally opposes the actions of a stimulated Ang II-AT1R axis through an increase in nitric oxide and prostaglandins and mediates vasodilation, natriuresis, diuresis, and reduced oxidative stress. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that these non-classical RAS components contribute to the therapeutic blockade of the classical system to reduce blood pressure and attenuate various indices of renal injury, as well as contribute to normal renal function. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:2733-2752, 2012.