Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for ∼27% of deaths worldwide, with 80% of these occuring in developing countries. Hypertension is one of the most important treatable factors in the prevention of CVD. Angiotensin-I converting enzyme (ACE) is a two-domain
dipeptidylcarboxypeptidase that is a key regulator of blood pressure as a result of its critical role in the reninangiotensin- aldosterone and kallikrien-kinin systems. Consequently, ACE is an important drug target in the treatment of CVD. ACE is primarily known for its ability to cleave angiotensin-I
to the vasoactive octapeptide angiotensin-II, but is also able to cleave a number of other substrates including the vasodilator bradykinin and N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (acetyl-SDKP), a physiological modulator of hematopoiesis. Numerous ACE inhibiors are available clinically, and
these are generally effective in treating hypertension. However some adverse effects are associated with ACE inhibition, such as the persistent dry cough and the potentially fatal angioedema. The solution of ACE crystal structures over the last decade has facilitated rational drug design which
has contributed to the development of domain-selective ACE inhibitors, the most notable of which include RXP407 (N-domain) and RXPA380 (C-domain), which in principle may herald new therapeutic approaches for ACE inhibition. Additionally, dual inhibitors to ACE and other targets such as neprilysin,
endothelin converting enzyme and chymase have been developed. The success of ACE inhibitors has also led to the search for novel inhibitors in food and natural products and the structure guided screening of such libraries may well reveal a number of new ACE inhibitors.
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