Introduction: Angiotensin II (ANG II) and vasopressin (VP) interact in several physiological mechanisms, playing a role in arterial hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Aim and methods of search: To overview on the primary mechanism involved in the regulation of cardiovascular function, PubMed/Medline was searched, and authors selected original articles and reviews written in English.
Results: Angiotensin II (ANG II) and vasopressin (VP) are involved in several physiological mechanisms. ANG II stimulates VP release via angiotensin receptor 1. ANG II and VP stimulate aldosterone synthesis and secretion and enhance its action at the renal collecting duct level. VP is also involved in the cardiovascular reflex control of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Also, VP potentiates vasoconstriction and cardiac contractility, enhancing the effect of ANG II on sympathetic tone and arterial pressure. On the other hand, ANG II and VP act antagonistically in regulating baroreflex control of the SNS. There is evidence that high VP plasma levels increase baroreflex sympatho-inhibitory responses, and the arterial baroreflex response is shifted to lower pressure. This cardiovascular reflex control is mediated mainly in the brain, specifically in the circumventricular organ area postrema (AP). The modulation of cardiovascular reflex control induced by VP is abolished after lesions of the AP. VP modulation of baroreflex function is also under the control of α2-adrenergic pathway arising from the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) and synapsing on VP-ergic neurons of supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. Presynaptic α2-adrenergic stimulation within the NTS inhibits VP release induced by hypovolemia and the effects of VP and AP on baroreflex control of SNS, thus showing baroreceptor afferent inputs are processed within the NTS and contribute to the increased baroreflex sympatho-inhibitory responses.
Discussion: In patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), plasma VP levels are elevated, inducing an up-regulation of aquaporin 2 water channel expression in renal collecting duct (CD) cells provoking exaggerated water retention and dilutional hyponatremia. Antagonists of VP and ANG II receptors reduce edema, body weight, and dyspnea in CHF patients.
Conclusion: Hormonal imbalance between ANG II, VP, and SNS may induce hypertension and impaired water-electrolyte balance in cardiovascular diseases.