Transgenic angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 overexpression in the rat vasculature protects kidneys from ageing-induced injury


  • A.M. Sanad
  • F. Qadri
  • E. Popova
  • A.F. Rodrigues
  • T. Heinbokel
  • S. Quach
  • A. Schulz
  • S. Bachmann
  • R. Kreutz
  • N. Alenina
  • M. Bader


  • Kidney International


  • Kidney Int 104 (2): 293-304


  • Chronic kidney disease is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality especially among the aged population. A decline in kidney function with ageing comparable to ageing-related processes in human kidneys has also been described in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The renin-angiotensin-system (RAS) plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular and kidney disease and is a successful therapeutic target. The discovery of angiotensin-(1-7) (Ang(1-7)), mainly produced by angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and its receptor MAS offered a new view on the RAS. This ACE2/Ang(1-7)/MAS axis counteracts most deleterious actions of the RAS in the kidney. In order to evaluate if activation of this axis has a protective effect in ageing-induced kidney disease we generated a transgenic rat model (TGR(SM22hACE2)) overexpressing human ACE2 in vascular smooth muscle cells. These animals showed a specific transgene expression pattern and increased ACE2 activity in the kidney. Telemetric recording of the cardiovascular parameters and evaluation of kidney function by histology and urine analysis revealed no alterations in blood pressure regulation and basal kidney function in young transgenic rats when compared to young SD rats. However, with ageing, SD rats developed a decline in kidney function characterized by severe albuminuria which was significantly less pronounced in TGR(SM22hACE2) rats. Concomitantly, we detected lower mRNA expression levels of kidney damage markers in aged transgenic animals. Thus, our results indicate that vascular ACE2-overexpression protects the kidney against ageing-induced decline in kidney function supporting the kidney-protective role of the ACE2/Ang(1-7)/MAS axis.