The genesis of the new study came through the efforts of the study's lead author, Arul Veerappan, now a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Silver's laboratory. He looked closely at rings of bronchial tissue from rodents, discovering that mast cells in these rings released renin along with other substances.
"You ended up getting the same biochemical cascade that we had seen elsewhere -- newly produced renin bringing about a local rise in angiotensin in tissues," Veerappan says.
Research led by co-author Alicia Reid, also a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Silver's lab, led to another first. Using a technology Reid developed, the researchers confirmed for the first time that mast cells from human lung tissue release a form of renin that is nearly identical to renin found in human mast cells grown in culture or human kidney renin.
"That's a big achievement, because it supports the notion that the mechanism we have discovered is not just a laboratory phenomenon -- it's actually occurring in the living human lung," Dr. Levi notes.
New research suggests that local renin production may also be crucial in diseases marked by tissue fibrosis (stiffening). In fact, Dr. Silver's lab is now looking at the role locally produced renin might play in a rare, deadly illness called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), where lung tissue becomes increasingly inflexible over time.
"We're interested in any disease in which we can also detect local renin/angiotensin production because it appears to be linked to fibrosis, vasoconstriction, and now bronchoconstriction," Dr. Silver explains.
The goal of all this research: new treatment targets for a range of illnesses.
"Of course, we already have antihypertensive medicines -- such as ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers -- that focus on curbing angiotensin in a more system
|Contact: Andrew Klein|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College