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J Neurochem. 2008 Jul;106(1):416-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05402.x. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Human brain aminopeptidase A: biochemical properties and distribution in brain nuclei.

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INSERM, U691, Paris, France.


Aminopeptidase A (APA) generated brain angiotensin III, one of the main effector peptides of the brain renin angiotensin system, exerting a tonic stimulatory effect on the control of blood pressure in hypertensive rats. The distribution of APA in human brain has not been yet studied. We first biochemically characterized human brain APA (apparent molecular mass of 165 and 130 kDa) and we showed that the human enzyme exhibited similar enzymatic characteristics to recombinant mouse APA. Both enzymes had similar sensitivity to Ca(2+). Kinetic studies showed that the K(m) (190 mumol/L) of the human enzyme for the synthetic substrate-l-glutamyl-beta-naphthylamide was close from that of the mouse enzyme (256 mumol/L). Moreover, various classes of inhibitors including the specific and selective APA inhibitor, (S)-3-amino-4-mercapto-butyl sulfonic acid, had similar inhibitory potencies toward both enzymes. Using (S)-3-amino-4-mercapto-butyl sulfonic acid, we then specifically measured the activity of APA in 40 microdissected areas of the adult human brain. Significant heterogeneity was found in the activity of APA in the various analyzed regions. The highest activity was measured in the choroids plexus and the pineal gland. High activity was also detected in the dorsomedial medulla oblongata, in the septum, the prefrontal cortex, the olfactory bulb, the nucleus accumbens, and the hypothalamus, especially in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei. Immunostaining of human brain sections at the level of the medulla oblongata strengthened these data, showing for the first time a high density of immunoreactive neuronal cell bodies and fibers in the motor hypoglossal nucleus, the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, the nucleus of the solitary tract, the Roller nucleus, the ambiguus nucleus, the inferior olivary complex, and in the external cuneate nucleus. APA immunoreactivity was also visualized in vessels and capillaries in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus and the inferior olivary complex. The presence of APA in several human brain nuclei sensitive to angiotensins and involved in blood pressure regulation suggests that APA in humans is an integral component of the brain renin angiotensin system and strengthens the idea that APA inhibitors could be clinically tested as an additional therapy for the treatment of certain forms of hypertension.

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