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Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 Metabolizes and Partially Inactivates Pyr-Apelin-13 and Apelin-17: Physiological Effects in the Cardiovascular System.

Wang W., McKinnie S.M., Farhan M., Paul M., McDonald T., McLean B., Llorens-Cortes C., Hazra S., Murray A.G., Vederas J.C., Oudit G.Y.

Apelin peptides mediate beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and are being targeted as potential new drugs. However, apelin peptides have extremely short biological half-lives, and improved understanding of apelin peptide metabolism may lead to the discovery of biologically stable analogues with therapeutic potential. We examined the ability of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to cleave and inactivate pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17, the dominant apelin peptides. Computer-assisted modeling shows a conserved binding of pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 to the ACE2 catalytic site. In ACE2 knockout mice, hypotensive action of pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 was potentiated, with a corresponding greater elevation in plasma apelin levels. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of ACE2 potentiated the vasodepressor action of apelin peptides. Biochemical analysis confirmed that recombinant human ACE2 can cleave pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 efficiently, and apelin peptides are degraded slower in ACE2-deficient plasma. The biological relevance of ACE2-mediated proteolytic processing of apelin peptides was further supported by the reduced potency of pyr-apelin 12 and apelin 16 on the activation of signaling pathways and nitric oxide production from endothelial cells. Importantly, although pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 rescued contractile function in a myocardial ischemia-reperfusion model, ACE2 cleavage products, pyr-apelin 12 and 16, were devoid of these cardioprotective effects. We designed and synthesized active apelin analogues that were resistant to ACE2-mediated degradation, thereby confirming that stable apelin analogues can be designed as potential drugs. We conclude that ACE2 represents a major negative regulator of apelin action in the vasculature and heart.

Hypertension 68:365-377(2016) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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