Tissue kallikrein (TK), the major kinin-forming enzyme, is synthesized in several organs, including the kidney and arteries. A loss-of-function polymorphism of the human TK gene (R53H) induces a substantial decrease in enzyme activity. As inactivation of the TK gene in the mouse induces endothelial dysfunction, we investigated the vascular, hormonal, and renal phenotypes of carriers of the 53H allele. In a crossover study, 30 R53R-homozygous and 10 R53H-heterozygous young normotensive white males were randomly assigned to receive both a low sodium–high potassium diet to stimulate TK synthesis and a high sodium–low potassium diet to suppress TK synthesis, each for 1 week. Urinary kallikrein activity was 50–60% lower in R53H subjects than in R53R subjects. Acute flow-dependent vasodilatation and endothelium-independent vasodilatation of the brachial artery were both unaffected in R53H subjects. In contrast, R53H subjects consistently exhibited an increase in wall shear stress and a paradoxical reduction in artery diameter and lumen compared with R53R subjects. Renal and hormonal adaptation to diets was unaffected in R53H subjects. The partial genetic deficiency in TK activity is associated with an inward remodeling of the brachial artery, which is not adapted to a chronic increase in wall shear stress, indicating a new form of arterial dysfunction affecting 5–7% of white people.


Michel Azizi, Pierre Boutouyrie, Alvine Bissery, Mohsen Agharazii, Francis Verbeke, Nora Stern, Alessandra Bura-Rivière, Stéphane Laurent, François Alhenc-Gelas, Xavier Jeunemaitre


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