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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Jun;35(6):901-18.

The brain renin-angiotensin system: location and physiological roles.

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Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Vic., Australia.


Angiotensinogen, the precursor molecule for angiotensins I, II and III, and the enzymes renin, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), and aminopeptidases A and N may all be synthesised within the brain. Angiotensin (Ang) AT(1), AT(2) and AT(4) receptors are also plentiful in the brain. AT(1) receptors are found in several brain regions, such as the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, the lamina terminalis, lateral parabrachial nucleus, ventrolateral medulla and nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), which are known to have roles in the regulation of the cardiovascular system and/or body fluid and electrolyte balance. Immunohistochemical and neuropharmacological studies suggest that angiotensinergic neural pathways utilise Ang II and/or Ang III as a neurotransmitter or neuromodulator in the aforementioned brain regions. Angiotensinogen is synthesised predominantly in astrocytes, but the processes by which Ang II is generated or incorporated in neurons for utilisation as a neurotransmitter is unknown. Centrally administered AT(1) receptor antagonists or angiotensinogen antisense oligonucleotides inhibit sympathetic activity and reduce arterial blood pressure in certain physiological or pathophysiological conditions, as well as disrupting water drinking and sodium appetite, vasopressin secretion, sodium excretion, renin release and thermoregulation. The AT(4) receptor is identical to insulin-regulated aminopeptidase (IRAP) and plays a role in memory mechanisms. In conclusion, angiotensinergic neural pathways and angiotensin peptides are important in neural function and may have important homeostatic roles, particularly related to cardiovascular function, osmoregulation and thermoregulation.

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