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Molecular Effects of Angiotensin II on Astrocytes Isolated from Hypertensive Rats

Grant Winners

  • Michelle Clark, PhD – College of Pharmacy
  • Umadevi Kandalam, PhD – College of Dental Medicine
  • Larisa Odessky, BS – College of Pharmacy
  • Hieu Tran AA – College of Pharmacy


  • Andres Malave, PhD – College of Pharmacy


Award Winners

In the United States over 75 million people twenty or older suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension causes insidious physiological changes leading to kidney disease, heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes. According to the American Heart Association, the percentage of Americans with hypertension and the number of deaths attributed to hypertension are increasing. Numerous anti-hypertensive medications are available, including those that target angiotensin II synthesis and effects. However, treatment of hypertension has been unsuccessful because our knowledge of the intracellular systems and cell types that control blood pressure are limited. This translated into 90-95% of the causes of hypertension unknown. Angiotensin II, produced by the rennin angiotensin system (RAS), elicits physiological effects that may lead to increases in blood pressure. Angiotensin II produced in the brain is involved with blood pressure regulation, and hyperactivity of this system may lead to hypertension. We propose to use astrocytes prepared from the brains of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) as a model brain system to determine whether endogenous or stimulated changes in angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) and angiotensinogen (RAS components) contribute to hypertension in these animals. ACE2 and angiotensinogen may contribute to hypertension in diverse ways. ACE2 produces angiotensin-(1-7) which counteracts angiotensin II blood pressure effects. Angiotensinogen is the precursor molecule for angiotensin peptides. Changes in angiotensinogen levels determine the amount of angiotensin II that will be produced. The specific aims of this project are to: 1) determine whether ACE2 activity, protein, and mRNA levels are decreased in astrocytes isolated from SHR; and 2) determine whether angiotensinogen mRNA and protein levels are increased in astrocytes isolated from SHR. It is essential that we understand how different cell types are affected by a dysregulated RAS and how these cells regulate blood pressure to allow us to better prevent and treat hypertension.

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