Potential role of the tissue renin-angiotensin system in the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure.
ABSTRACT The circulating renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays an important role in the maintenance of cardiovascular homeostasis. It has recently been demonstrated that endogenous RAS exist in target tissues that are important in cardiovascular regulation. This article reviews the multiple effects of angiotensin II in target tissues, the evidence for the presence of functional tissue RAS and the data that suggest a role for these tissue RAS in the pathophysiology of heart failure. Activation of circulating neurohormones is predictive of worsened survival in heart failure; however, cardiac and renal tissue RAS activities are also increased in the compensated stage of heart failure, when plasma renin-angiotensin activity is normal. It is hypothesized that the plasma RAS maintains circulatory homeostasis during acute cardiac decompensation, while changes in tissue RAS contribute to homeostatic responses during chronic sustained cardiac impairment. This concept of different functions of circulating and tissue RAS in the pathophysiology of heart failure may have important pharmacologic implications.