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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Apr;80(4):354-9.

ACE inhibition and atherogenesis.

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Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH, Business Unit Cardiology/Thrombosis, Bad Soden, Germany.


Recent clinical studies such as HOPE, SECURE, and APRES show that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors like ramipril improve the prognosis of patients with a high risk of atherothrombotic cardiovascular events. Atherosclerosis, as a chronic inflammatory condition of the vascular system, can turn into an acute clinical event through the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque followed by thrombosis. ACE inhibition has a beneficial effect on the atherogenic setting and on fibrinolysis. Endothelial dysfunction is the end of a common process in which cardiovascular risk factors contribute to inflammation and atherogenesis. By inhibiting the formation of angiotensin II, ACE inhibitors prevent any damaging effects on endothelial function, vascular smooth muscle cells, and inflammatory vascular processes. An increase in the release of NO under ACE inhibition has a protective effect. Local renin-angiotensin systems in the tissue are involved in the inflammatory processes in the atherosclerotic plaque. Circulating ACE-containing monocytes, which adhere to endothelial cell lesions, differentiate within the vascular wall to ACE-containing macrophages or foam cells with increased local synthesis of ACE and angiotensin II. Within the vascular wall, angiotensin II decisively contributes to the instability of the plaque by stimulating growth factors, adhesion molecules, chemotactic proteins, cytokines, oxidized LDL, and matrix metalloproteinases. Suppression of the increased ACE activity within the plaque can lead to the stabilization and deactivation of the plaque by reducing inflammation in the vascular wall, thus lessening the risk of rupture and thrombosis and the resultant acute clinical cardiovascular events. The remarkable improvement in the long-term prognosis of atherosclerotic patients with increased cardiovascular risk might be the clinical result of the contribution made by ACE inhibition in the vascular wall.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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