Objective: Angiotensin-converting enzyme and its effector peptide angiotensin II have been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute respiratory distress syndrome. Recently, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 was identified as the counter-regulatory enzyme of angiotensin-converting enzyme that converts angiotensin II into angiotensin-(1-7). The aim of this study was to determine pulmonary angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Design: Prospective observational pilot study.
Setting: A PICU of a university hospital.
Patients: Fourteen patients admitted, requiring mechanical ventilation for respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infection.
Measurements and Main Results: Two groups of patients were distinguished at admission: a group fulfilling the criteria for acute respiratory distress syndrome and a non–acute respiratory distress syndrome group. Angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome had increased angiotensin-converting enzyme activity and decreased angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity (p < 0.001) compared with the control group.
Conclusion: It is shown for the first time that in acute respiratory distress syndrome, enhanced angiotensin-converting enzyme activity is paralleled by a reduced angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity, similar to that found in an experimental rat model of acute respiratory distress syndrome. The reduced angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 activity may be counteracted by restoring angiotensin-(1-7) level, thereby offering a novel treatment modality for this syndrome.