The renin angiotensin system as a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
The renin angiotensin system was demonstrated to play a significant role in the genesis of hypertension and regulation of vascular tone over 100 years ago. The early investigations were subsequently expanded to implicate the renin angiotensin system in a variety of physiologic processes that may play a significant role in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. The renin angiotensin system modulates vascular structure and left ventricular hypertrophy via a number of trophic effects. Elevated levels of angiotensin II are associated with the generation of oxidative stress, and may thus play a significant role in the earliest phases of atherosclerosis. The role inflammation plays in atherosclerosis is amplified by the renin angiotensin system via the effects on adhesion molecules, growth factors, and chemoattractant molecules, which modulate the migration of inflammatory cells into the subendothelial space. The effects of angiotensin II, which may be at least partially genetically mediated, have been implicated in epidemiologic and clinical studies as a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. This review centers on the potential role that the renin angiotensin system plays as a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis, and the role of converting enzyme inhibition or angiotensin receptor blockade as a mechanism to decrease the initiation, progression, and clinical consequences of the atherosclerotic process.