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Key points

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    Two distinct angiotensin-(1–7) [Ang-(1–7)] receptor blockers, A779 and d-Pro-Ang-(1–7), can completely prevent Ang-(1–7)-induced vasorelaxation.
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    Genetic deficiency of Mas completely prevents vascular responses to Ang-(1–7).
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    Genetic deficiency of Mas completely prevents vascular responses to other NO-dependent vasorelaxants (bradykinin).
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    Mas plays a key role in NO-mediated vasodilatation by modulating vasorelaxant-mediated phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in endothelial cells.

Abstract  The heptapeptide angiotensin-(1–7) is a biologically active metabolite of angiotensin II, the predominant peptide of the renin–angiotensin system. Recently, we have shown that the receptor Mas is associated with angiotensin-(1–7)-induced signalling and mediates, at least in part, the vasodilatory properties of angiotensin-(1–7). However, it remained controversial whether an additional receptor could account for angiotensin-(1–7)-induced vasorelaxation. Here, we used two different angiotensin-(1–7) antagonists, A779 and d-Pro-angiotensin-(1–7), to address this question and also to study their influence on the vasodilatation induced by bradykinin. Isolated mesenteric microvessels from both wild-type and Mas-deficient C57Bl/6 mice were precontracted with noradrenaline, and vascular reactivity to angiotensin-(1–7) and bradykinin was subsequently studied using a small-vessel myograph. Furthermore, mechanisms for Mas effects were investigated in primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Both angiotensin-(1–7) and bradykinin triggered a concentration-dependent vasodilatation in wild-type microvessels, which was absent in the presence of a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor. In these vessels, the pre-incubation with the Mas antagonists A779 or d-Pro-angiotensin-(1–7) totally abolished the vasodilatory capacity of both angiotensin-(1–7) and bradykinin, which was nitric oxide mediated. Accordingly, Mas-deficient microvessels lacked the capacity to relax in response to either angiotensin-(1–7) or bradykinin. Pre-incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells with A779 prevented bradykinin-mediated NO generation and NO synthase phosphorylation at serine 1177. The angiotensin-(1–7) antagonists A779 and d-Pro-angiotensin-(1–7) equally block Mas, which completely controls the angiotensin-(1–7)-induced vasodilatation in mesenteric microvessels. Importantly, Mas also appears to be a critical player in NO-mediated vasodilatation induced by renin–angiotensin system-independent agonists by altering phosphorylation of NO synthase.