tensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These drugs, which include Capoten? and Lotensin?, increase levels of angiotensin-(1-7) in the bloodstream.
Gallagher and Tallant have been working with angiotensin -(1-7) for years as members of the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center faculty. Carlos M. Ferrario, M.D., center director, discovered angiotensin-(1-7) in 1988, and found it to be a critical element of the blood pressure control system. The hormone relaxes (dilates) the walls of the blood vessels, causing blood pressure to be lowered. ACE inhibitors may work by increasing angiotensin-(1-7).
For the current study, human cancer cells were obtained from the American Tissue Culture Collection. Mice were inoculated with the cells and 32 days later were randomly selected to receive either an intravenous treatment of angiotensin-(1-7) or saline for 28 days. The blood levels of angiotensin-(1-7) achieved through treatment were similar to levels in humans being treated with an ACE inhibitor.
'The study may explain the molecular mechanism for a decreased risk of lung cancers in patients with high blood pressure taking ACE inhibitors,' said Tallant.
The researchers believe that angiotensin-(1-7) reduces cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme that regulates cell growth. COX-2 is found at higher levels in 70 to 90 percent of malignant lung tumors.
Theoretically, drugs to reduce COX-2 would also be effective at shrinking tumors. But the drugs, such as Vioxx?, have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and angina.
The researchers said that additional studies of angiotensin-(1-7) are needed, but that the hormone shows promise as a lung cancer treatment – either alone or in combination with other drugs.
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