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PURPOSE - The role of the renin-angiotensin system in the homeostasis of fluid, electrolyte and blood pressure has been known for quite some time. Recent developments indicate that angiotensin has a profound role, not only in the developing urinary tract but also in the response of the urinary tract to injury. In this review we outline these characteristics.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We summarize the clinical approach to congenital abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tract, and report new data obtained in genetically engineered mice. Furthermore, we present the connection between the mutant mice observations and human congenital abnormalities.
RESULTS - Genetically engineered mutants clearly indicate that the renin-angiotensin system is important for normal renal and urological development. As in glomerular disease, the renin-angiotensin system is involved in progressive damage due to urological disease.
CONCLUSIONS - While the renin-angiotensin system is important for blood pressure regulation, it also affects the embryogenesis of the urinary tract and modulates renal injury due to specific disease processes. The importance of angiotensin and its blockade provides an exciting avenue for possible early treatment in children with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract.
PURPOSE - We and others have shown that angiotensin II has a pivotal role in renal damage in various renal injuries. Although most angiotensin II actions are associated with the angiotensin type 1 receptor, there is increasing evidence that the angiotensin type 2 receptor also transduces some important effects of angiotensin II. In this regard we recently observed that mice with genetically engineered disruption of the angiotensin type 2 receptor, termed Agtr2 mutants, are more susceptible to structural renal damage after ureteral obstruction. Recent evidence suggests that a genetically determined increase in angiotensin converting enzyme activity in humans promotes end organ damage. Therefore, we determined whether renal damage in Agtr2 mutants is associated with heightened angiotensin converting enzyme activity.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We studied 28 wild type and 19 Agtr2 mutant mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction. Seven days after obstruction was created serum samples were obtained to evaluate angiotensin converting enzyme activity. The obstructed and contralateral kidneys were harvested for histological analysis and determination of renal angiotensin converting enzyme activity by high pressure liquid chromatography.
RESULTS - Renal angiotensin converting enzyme was uniformly higher than serum angiotensin converting enzyme in normal wild type and Agtr2 mutant mice. However, even at baseline Agtr2 mutant mice had strikingly higher renal angiotensin converting enzyme activity than normal wild type mice (mean plus or minus standard error 1,492+/-83 versus 450+/-60 milliunits per gm. tissue weight, p <0.0005). Histological analysis revealed more extensive parenchymal damage in the obstructed kidneys of mutant mice than in identically treated controls. Notably while unilateral ureteral obstruction decreased renal angiotensin converting enzyme activity in each group, activity remained persistently higher in the Agtr2 mutants than in normal mice (mean 742+/-146 versus 310+/-43 milliunits per gm. tissue weight, p <0.005).
CONCLUSIONS - We propose that elevated renal angiotensin converting enzyme activity contributes to more severe renal parenchymal damage in ureteral obstruction by promoting the availability of growth factors, such as angiotensin II, or depleting antiproliferation factors, such as bradykinin or nitric oxide. These findings complement previous observations that angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition preserves the renal parenchyma after injury, including obstruction.
We examined the role of angiotensin in renal remodeling that is specifically channeled through the angiotensin type 2 receptor (AT2 receptor). Previously, we observed that in mouse embryonic kidneys the AT2 mRNA is predominantly expressed in the mesenchyme. We therefore chose a model of unilateral ureteral obstruction, characterized by activation of the renin-angiotensin system, while fibrosis develops prominently within the renal interstitium. Male wild-type mice (Agtr2 -/Y) and mice null mutant for the AT2 gene (Agtr2 -/Y) were subjected to a complete unilateral ureteral ligation for 5 or 14 days. Obstructed kidneys of Agtr2 -/Y mice showed more severe interstitial fibrosis than those of Agtr2 +/Y mice, confirmed by increased collagen by point-counting on Masson trichrome stained sections, and increased alpha 1(I) collagen mRNA expression by Northern blot. Immunohistochemistry staining for PCNA (a marker of cell proliferation), F4/80 (a marker of macrophages), vimentin (a marker of fibroblasts), and alpha SMA (a marker of myofibroblasts) revealed that, while the two groups were comparable in the degree of cell proliferation and macrophage infiltration, fibroblasts/ myofibroblasts were present in a greater abundance in obstructed kidneys of Agtr2 -/Y mice than in Agtr2 +/Y at both 5 and 14 days after obstruction. Moreover, cells undergoing apoptosis were significantly less in Agtr2 -/Y than in Agtr2 +/Y. Thus, the AT2 receptor significantly impacts the remodeling process within renal interstitium, potentially by regulating the population of collagen-producing cells.
The inducible second isoform of cyclooxygenase (COX-2) that mediates inflammation also is expressed at low levels in normal adult rat kidneys and is upregulated in response to noninflammatory stimuli (R. C. Harris, J. A. McKanna, Y. Akai, H. R. Jacobson, R. N. DuBois, and M. D. Breyer, J. Clin. Invest. 94: 2504-2510, 1994). Roles in morphogenesis are indicated by reported teratogenicity of COX inhibitors and renal dysgenesis in COX-2 knockout mice (J. E. Dinchuk, B. D. Car, R. J. Focht, J. J. Johnston, B. D. Jaffee, M. B. Covington, N. R. Contel, V. M. Eng, R. J. Collins, P. M. Czerniak, A. G. Stewart, and J. M. Trzaskos, Nature 378: 406-409, 1995; S. G. Morham, R. Lagenbach, C. D. Loftin, H. F. Tiano, N. Vouloumanos, J. C. Jennette, J. F. Mahler, K. D. Kluckman, A. Ledford, C. A. Lee, and O. Smithies. Cell 83: 473-482, 1995). Blots from developing rat kidneys demonstrated that COX-2 mRNA and immunoreactive protein were present in neonates, peaked in the 2nd and 3rd postnatal weeks and declined to adult levels by the 3rd month. Immunolocalization and in situ hybridization detected intense COX-2 immunoreactivity and mRNA in a subset of thick ascending limb epithelial cells near the macula densa in each developing nephron; after 2 wk the COX-2 gradually waned. These data demonstrate that COX-2 expression is subject to normal developmental regulation and can be sustained over extended periods; they also support the conclusion that metabolites of COX-2 play important roles in the differentiation and early functions of mammalian nephrons.
OBJECTIVES - To evaluate the prognostic significance of ureteral obstruction in women with cervical cancer and the result of aggressive urinary diversion.
METHODS - The clinical history and X-rays of 52 women with Stage III and IV cervical cancer seen at Vanderbilt University between 1981 and 1991 were retrospectively reviewed.
RESULTS - Twenty-nine (55.8%) of these patients had unilateral  or bilateral  ureteral obstruction. There was no statistically significant difference in the survival of patients whether or not ureteral obstruction was present. Ten of fourteen women with bilateral ureteral obstruction and 4 of the 15 patients with unilateral obstruction underwent urinary diversion by percutaneous nephrostomy  or retrograde ureteral catheterization . Complications were few. Although patients who underwent urinary diversion had somewhat better survival, it was not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS - Some patients with ureteral obstruction due to advanced cervical cancer can be salvaged by prompt, aggressive urinary diversion, but large trials are needed to validate this approach.
During the past decade, experimental and clinical evidence has indicated an important role for the renin-angiotensin system in the progressive destruction of nephrons in a wide variety of chronic renal diseases. Studies have indicated that in the subtotally nephrectomized rat model of progressive glomerulosclerosis, in experimental diabetes mellitus, in the chronic phase of puromycin aminonucleoside-induced nephrotic syndrome and in Heymann's nephritis, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors dramatically preserve both nephron structure and function. Clinical studies have similarly noted that chronic administration of ACE inhibitors inhibits progression of renal failure in type I diabetes and type II diabetes as well as primary glomerulopathies, sickle cell nephropathy, systemic lupus erythematosis, chronic pyelonephritis and adult polycystic kidney disease. Current evidence suggests that the beneficial effect of ACE inhibitors is primarily due to inhibition of angiotensin II production, and there is strong suggestive evidence for increases in local intrarenal activation of the renin-angiotensin system in these conditions. In obstructive uropathy, activation of the renin-angiotensin system has also been shown to be an important aspect of the early functional changes and may be of importance in the subsequent generation of interstitial fibrosis. In the obstructed kidney, renin and angiotensinogen production increase and type I angiotensin receptors decrease. Inhibitors of angiotensin II production and angiotensin II action partially reverse the vasoconstriction and the reduced renal blood flow, and abolish the changes in expression of AT1 MRNA induced by obstruction. Studies suggest that the angiotensin-mediated increases in tubulointerstitial fibrosis may be mediated by increased production of transforming growth factor-beta.