Plasma-membrane receptors for angiotensin II (AII) have been identified in many AII-responsive tissues involved in the control of blood pressure via direct or indirect actions on vascular contractility. The specific, high-affinity receptors for AII in adrenal zona glomerulosa, vascular smooth muscle, kidney, brain, and anterior pituitary gland exhibit generally similar binding properties. However, the AII receptors in adrenal zona glomerulosa and vascular smooth muscle undergo reciprocal regulatory changes during alterations in sodium intake. These appear to be mediated by changes in circulating AII and are accompanied by parallel changes in sensitivity to AII. The AII receptors in the anterior pituitary gland are located in lactotrophs and corticotrophs and mediate the stimulatory actions of AII upon prolactin and ACTH secretion, acting in conjunction with other hypothalamic regulators. The anterior pituitary receptors are not affected by changes in sodium balance or AII infusion, in contrast to adrenal and vascular AII receptors, but exhibit similar ligand-binding properties to the sites present in other tissues. In the brain, AII receptors are present in several discrete regions and are particularly concentrated in the circumventricular organs. During dehydration, AII receptors are increased in the subfornical organ, but show no significant changes in the other circumventricular organs. The increase in subfornical-organ receptors is analogous to the up-regulation of AII sites in the adrenal cortex during sodium deficiency and may have a potentiating action upon the dipsogenic role of AII during dehydration. Mapping of AII receptors of the brain by topical autoradiography has revealed a highly characteristic pattern of distribution in brain regions concerned with drinking, adrenergic control, blood-pressure regulation, and hypothalamic control of pituitary-hormone secretion. In the rat kidney, AII receptors have been localized in the cortex and medulla by topical autoradiography with 125I-[Sar1]AII. The renal cortical receptors appear to be localized in glomeruli, whereas the AII receptors in the renal medulla are distributed diffusely in medullary tissue and also as localized radiating stripes which correspond to the vasa rectae bundles. The location of the renal receptors for AII in cortical and medullary sites emphasizes the multiplicity of actions of the octapeptide upon the individual compartments of the kidney.
The cardiovascular and other actions of angiotensin II (Ang II) are mediated by AT1 and AT2 receptors, which are seven transmembrane glycoproteins with 30% sequence similarity. Most species express a single autosomal AT1 gene, but two related AT1A and AT1B receptor genes are expressed in rodents. AT1 receptors are predominantly coupled to Gq/11, and signal through phospholipases A, C, D, inositol phosphates, calcium channels, and a variety of serine/threonine and tyrosine kinases. Many AT1-induced growth responses are mediated by transactivation of growth factor receptors. The receptor binding sites for agonist and nonpeptide antagonist ligands have been defined. The latter compounds are as effective as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors in cardiovascular diseases but are better tolerated. The AT2receptor is expressed at high density during fetal development. It is much less abundant in adult tissues and is up-regulated in pathological conditions. Its signaling pathways include serine and tyrosine phosphatases, phospholipase A2, nitric oxide, and cyclic guanosine monophosphate. The AT2 receptor counteracts several of the growth responses initiated by the AT1 and growth factor receptors. The AT4 receptor specifically binds Ang IV (Ang 3–8), and is located in brain and kidney. Its signaling mechanisms are unknown, but it influences local blood flow and is associated with cognitive processes and sensory and motor functions. Although AT1 receptors mediate most of the known actions of Ang II, the AT2 receptor contributes to the regulation of blood pressure and renal function. The development of specific nonpeptide receptor antagonists has led to major advances in the physiology, pharmacology, and therapy of the renin-angiotensin system.