NYMC Faculty Publications

Chymase-dependent Production of Angiotensin II: an Old Enzyme in Old Hearts

Journal Title

American Journal of Physiology.Heart and Circulatory Physiology

First Page


Last Page


Document Type


Publication Date

February 2017


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Age-dependent alteration of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and generation of angiotensin II (Ang II) are well documented. By contrast, RAS-independent generation of Ang II in aging and its responses to exercise have not been explored. To this end, we examined the effects of chymase, a secretory serine protease, on the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-independent conversion of Ang I to Ang II. We hypothesized that age-dependent alteration of cardiac Ang II formation is chymase dependent in nature and is prevented by exercise training. Experiments were conducted on hearts isolated from young (3 mo), aged sedentary (24 mo), and aged rats chronically exercised on a treadmill. In the presence of low Ang I levels and downregulation of ACE expression/activity, cardiac Ang II levels were significantly higher in aged than young rats, suggesting an ACE-independent response. Aged hearts also displayed significantly increased chymase expression and activity, as well as upregulation of tryptase, a biological marker of mast cells, confirming a mast cell-sourced increase in chymase. Coincidently, cardiac superoxide produced from NADPH oxidase (Nox) was significantly enhanced in aged rats and was normalized by exercise. Conversely, a significant reduction in cardiac expression of ACE2 followed by lower Ang 1-7 levels and downregulation of the Mas receptor (binding protein of Ang 1-7) in aged rats were completely reversed by exercise. In conclusion, local formation of Ang II is increased in aged hearts, and chymase is primarily responsible for this increase. Chronic exercise is able to normalize the age-dependent alterations via compromising chymase/Ang II/angiotensin type 1 receptor/Nox actions while promoting ACE2/Ang 1-7/MasR signaling. NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Aging increases angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-independent production of cardiac angiotensin II (Ang II), a response that is driven by chymase in an exercise-reversible manner. These findings highlight chymase, in addition to ACE, as an important therapeutic target in the treatment and prevention of Ang II-induced deterioration of cardiac function in the elderly.