ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonists

A. Dendorfer, P. Dominiak, H. Schunkert


The biological actions of angiotensin II (ANG), the most prominent hormone of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), may promote the development of atherosclerosis in many ways. ANG aggravates hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and endothelial dysfunction, and thereby constitutes a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The formation of atherosclerotic lesions involves local uptake, synthesis and oxidation of lipids, inflammation, as well as cellular migration and proliferation---mechanisms that may all be enhanced by ANG via its AT1 receptor. ANG may also increase the risk of acute thrombosis by destabilizing atherosclerotic plaques and enhancing the activity of thrombocytes and coagulation. After myocardial infarction, ANG promotes myocardial remodeling and fibrosis, and its many pathological mechanisms deteriorate the prognosis of these high-risk patients in particular. Therapeutically, inhibitors of the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACEI) and AT1 receptor blockers (ARB) are available to suppress the generation and cellular signaling of ANG, respectively. Despite major differences in the efficacy of ANG suppression and the modulation of other hormones and receptors, both classes of drugs are generally effective in attenuating numerous pathomechanisms of ANG in vitro, and in diminishing the development of atherosclerotic lesions and restenosis after angioplasty in various animal models. In clinical therapy, ACEI and ACE are well-tolerated antihypertensive drugs that also improve the prognosis of heart failure patients. After myocardial infarction and in stable coronary heart disease, ACEI have been shown to reduce mortality in a manner independent of hemodynamic alterations. However, there is little evidence that inhibitors of the RAAS may be effective against arterial restenosis, and a possible benefit of these substances compared to other antihypertensive drugs in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease in hypertensive patients is still a matter of debate, possibly depending on the specific substance and condition being investigated. As such, the general clinical efficacy of ACEI and ARB may be due to a positive influence on hemodynamic load, vascular function, myocardial remodeling, and neuro-humoral regulation, rather than to a direct attenuation of the atherosclerotic process. Further therapeutic advances may be achieved by identifying optimum drugs, patient populations, and treatment protocols.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtherosclerosis: Diet and Drugs
EditorsArnold von Eckardstein
Number of pages36
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication date2005
ISBN (Print)978-3-540-22569-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-540-27661-6
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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