[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Angiotensin II (ANG II) contributes to hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, and dysfunction; however, it is difficult to separate the cardiac effect of ANG II from its hemodynamic action in vivo. To overcome the limitations, we used transgenic mice with cardiac-specific expression of a transgene fusion protein that releases ANG II from cardiomyocytes (Tg-ANG II) and treated them with deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt to suppress their systemic renin-angiotensin system. Using this unique model, we tested the hypothesis that cardiac ANG II, acting on the angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT(1)R), increases inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis, accelerating cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. Male Tg-ANG II mice and their nontransgenic littermates (n-Tg) were uninephrectomized and divided into the following three groups: 1) vehicle-treated normotensive controls; 2) DOCA-salt; and 3) DOCA-salt + valsartan (AT(1)R blocker).Under basal conditions, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and cardiac phenotypes were similar between strains. In DOCA-salt hypertension, SBP increased similarly in both n-Tg and Tg-ANG II, and cardiac function did not differ between strains; however, Tg-ANG II had 1) greater ventricular hypertrophy as well as interstitial and perivascular fibrosis; 2) a higher number of deoxynucleotidyl-transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling-positive cells and infiltrating macrophages; 3) increased protein expression of NADPH oxidase 2 and transforming growth factor-β(1); and 4) downregulation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) and protein kinase B (Akt) phosphorylation. Valsartan partially reversed these effects in Tg-ANG II but not in n-Tg. We conclude that, when hemodynamic loading conditions remain unchanged, cardiac ANG II does not alter heart size or cardiac functions. However, in animals with hypertension, cardiac ANG II, acting via AT(1)R, enhances inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell death (most likely via downregulation of PI 3-kinase and Akt), contributing to cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis.