The renin/angiotensin system (RAS) is a tonic anti-drop regulator of arterial blood pressure in many teleosts. In trout, angiotensin II (ANG II) has no direct constrictor effect on large arteries or veins and the identity of specific cardiovascular pressor effectors is unknown. Potential targets of angiotensin activation were examined in the present experiments using perfused organs and isolated tissues from the rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. Perfused gill (arches 2 and 3), perfused skeletal muscle-kidney (via the dorsal aorta; PDA) and perfused splanchnic (via the celiacomesenteric; PCM) circulations vasoconstrict in response to salmonid ANG II in a dose-dependent manner. ANG II was significantly (P¾0.05) more potent in the PCM than in the PDA, and both preparations were more responsive than the gills: pD2=8.0±0.20 (10) for PCM; pD2=7.5±0.07 (13) for PDA; pD2=6.9 ±0.21 (8) for gill arch 3; pD2=6.7±0.23 (8) for gill arch 2; mean ± s.e.m. (N), respectively. Salmonid angiotensin I (ANG I) also produced a dose-dependent constriction of the PDA and PCM. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activated nearly 100 % of ANG I to ANG II in a single pass through the PDA, whereas PCM conversion was estimated to be less than 10 %. Inhibitors of adrenergic constriction partially prevented ANG II responses in the PDA but did not affect PCM responses. ANG II did not affect paced rings of ventricular muscle in the presence of high or low [Ca2+] or epinephrine concentrations, nor did it have any inotropic or chronotropic effects in the in situ perfused heart. Red blood cell swelling was unaffected by ANG II. Similarly, the effects of ANG II on gut, urinary bladder and gall bladder smooth muscle were negligible or non-existent; thus, an increase in splanchnic resistance due to extravascular compression can be discounted. These results indicate that, in trout, the systemic microcirculation is the major cardiovascular effector of angiotensin-mediated pressor responses. In addition, the RAS has little direct effect on non-vascular smooth muscle or the heart. From an evolutionary perspective, the initial site of direct systemic RAS action appears to be the vascular microcirculation.

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