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J Endocrinol. 2011 Feb;208(2):137-45. doi: 10.1677/JOE-10-0360. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Renal growth retardation following angiotensin II type 1 (AT₁) receptor antagonism is associated with increased AT₂ receptor protein in fetal sheep.

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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK.


The actions of angiotensin II on type 1 (AT₁) and type 2 (AT₂) receptor subtypes are important for normal kidney development before birth. This study investigated the effect of AT₁ receptor antagonism on renal growth and growth regulators in fetal sheep during late gestation. From 125 days of gestation (term 145±2 days), chronically catheterised sheep fetuses were infused intravenously for 5 days with either an AT₁-specific receptor antagonist (GR138950, 2-4 mg/kg per day, n=5) or saline (0.9% NaCl, n=5). Blockade of the AT₁ receptor decreased arterial blood oxygenation and pH and increased blood pCO₂, haemoglobin and lactate, and plasma cortisol and IGF-II. Blood glucose and plasma thyroid hormones and IGF-I were unchanged between the treatment groups. On the 5th day of infusion, the kidneys of the GR-treated fetuses were lighter than those of the control fetuses, both in absolute and relative terms, and were smaller in transverse cross-sectional width and cortical thickness. In the GR-infused fetuses, renal AT₂ receptor protein concentration and glomerular density were significantly greater than in the saline-infused fetuses. Blockade of the AT₁ receptor had no effect on relative cortical thickness, fractional or mean glomerular volumes, or renal protein levels of the AT₁ receptor, IGF type 1 receptor, insulin receptor or protein kinase C ζ. Therefore, in the ovine fetus, AT₁ receptor antagonism causes increased renal protein expression of the AT₂ receptor subtype, which, combined with inhibition of AT₁ receptor activity, may be partly responsible for growth retardation of the developing kidney.

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