Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Recently, an alternative renin-angiotensin system pathway has been described, which involves binding of angiotensin-(1-7) to its receptor Mas. The Mas axis may counterbalance angiotensin-II-mediated proinflammatory effects, likely by affecting macrophage function. Here we investigate the role of Mas in murine models of autoimmune neuroinflammation and atherosclerosis, which both involve macrophage-driven pathomechanisms. Mas signaling affected macrophage polarization, migration, and macrophage-mediated T-cell activation. Mas deficiency exacerbated the course of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and increased macrophage infiltration as well as proinflammatory gene expression in the spleen and spinal cord. Furthermore, Mas deficiency promoted atherosclerosis by affecting macrophage infiltration and migration and led to increased oxidative stress as well as impaired endothelial function in ApoE-deficient mice. In summary, we identified the Mas axis as an important factor in macrophage function during inflammation of the central nervous and vascular system in vivo. Modulating the Mas axis may constitute an interesting therapeutic target in multiple sclerosis and/or atherosclerosis.