Angiotensin IV is a derivative of the potent vasoconstrictor angiotensin II and it has been shown to enhance acquisition, consolidation and recall in animal models of learning and memory when administered centrally or peripherally. Whether changes in angiotensin IV activity underlie the cognitive effects of those cardiovascular drugs designed to disrupt the peripheral renin-angiotensin system in humans remains undetermined, but angiotensin IV appears to be a worthy candidate for consideration in drug development programmes. The mechanism of action of angiotensin IV is still debated, although its AT4 receptor has been convincingly identified as being insulin-regulated amino peptidase, which is also known as oxytocinase and placental leucine aminopeptidase. It is speculated that angiotensin IV may interact with insulin-regulated amino peptidase to enhance neuronal glucose uptake, prevent metabolism of other neuroactive peptides, induce changes in extracellular matrix molecules, or induce release of acetylcholine and/or dopamine. All of these things may be responsible for the beneficial effects on cognition, but none of them are yet proven. Importantly, strain differences in murine responses to angiotensin IV suggest that some individuals may benefit from drugs targeted to the AT4 receptor whilst others may be refractory. At present it thus appears that those individuals with the poorest baseline cognition may receive greatest benefit, but possible genetic differences in responses to angiotensin IV cannot be ruled-out.
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