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Polymorphism of angiotensin converting enzyme in hemodialysis patients-association with cardiovascular morbidity/Povezanost polimorfizma gena za angiotenzin-konvertujuci enzim sa kardiovaskularnim morbiditetom bolesnika na hronicnoj hemodijalizi.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in hemodialysis patients. The risk for developing cardiovascular event is 5-30 times higher in patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) than in the general population [1-5]. Atherosclerosis has the principal role in cardiovascular events, and its pathogenesis is formulated as the response-to-injury model. Endothelial denudation, being the first step in atherosclerosis, can be the result of many different factors.

Traditional risk factors (smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypoalbuminaemia, etc.), could not explain the high prevalence of cardiovascular disease in hemodialysis patients [1-8]. Therefore, recent reports have suggested a role of nontraditional risk factors in pathogenesis of CVD, such as gene polymorphism of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) [9, 10]. Gene polymorphism means the presence of two or more variants of a gene, and the frequency of its rarest allele must be higher than 1% or equal to 1% to consider a gene locus polymorph.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme is a zinc metallopeptidase, distributed on the surface of endothelial and epithelial cells. It has a vital role in normal physiological conditions, as a part of renin-angiotensinaldosterone system (RAAS), kinin-kallikrein system [11, 12]. ACE also takes part in in vitro degradation of amyloid beta peptide and in signal transduction in the central nervous system. Angiotensin-converting enzyme converts the inactive decapeptide, angiotensine I to the active octapeptide and potent vasoconstrictor angiotensin II, which is the main product of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) [12].

The gene encoding ACE is located on the long arm of chromosome 17. The gene is 21 kilo bases (kb) long and comprises 26 exons and 25 introns. In mature sACE m ribonucleic acid (RNA) exons 1 to 26 are transcribed, except for exon 13, which is spliced. There is only one copy of ACE gene in human haplotype [13]. There are more than 160 ACE gene polymorphisms listed, most of which are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Only 34 of them are located in coding regions. Others like insertion-deletion polymorphisms are less common [13].

Polymorphisms for different components of RAAS such as genes for renin synthesis, angiotensinogen and AT1 receptors, have been investigated as factors affecting the progression of cardiovascular and renal diseases. Investigators have shown the greatest interest for further studies on ACE gene polymorphism.

There are large interindividual differences in plasma ACE levels [13]. In 1990, Rigat et al. found a polymorphism involving either the presence (insertion--I) or absence (deletion--D) of a 287 bp sequence of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in intron 16 of ACE gene [14]. The deletion is considered as a mutation. The insertion inside the regulatory region of ACE gene blocks, while the deletion of the same region activates the gene [14, 15].

There are three different genotypes, I/I, I/D and D/D, and each one of them might influence the ACE activity. Genotype DD indicates deletion of 287 bp in both alleles, while the presence of the insertion segment in both alleles indicates that the subject is II homozygote. Heterozygotes have ID genotype when the deletion of 287 kb is present in one allele. The highest levels of plasma ACE are found in DD homozygotes, homozygotes with I/I genotype have the lowest level, while those with I/D genotype have intermediate plasma levels of this enzyme [16, 17].

The aim of this study was to analyse ACE polymorphism in our group of hemodialysis patients and to correlate the findings with cardiovascular morbidity.

Material and Methods

This study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Zvezdara University Medical Centre and the written consent has been obtained from each patient.

The study included 196 patients on regular hemodialysis, on polysulphone membrane three times per week for more than six months at the Zvezdara University Medical Centre. The genetic analysis was performed by using polymerase chain reaction--restriction fragment length polymorphism method (PCR-RFLP).

The retrospective analysis included data collection from the patients' history regarding cardiovascular morbidity (myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmia, hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, peripheral artery disease). The collected data were correlated with the genetic polymorphism for ACE.

Heart arrhythmia was diagnosed by electrocardiogram (ECG) holter monitoring, hypertension was defined as blood pressure elevation over 140/90 mmHg in more than two repeated measurements, while the estimation of left ventricular hypertrophy was based on echosonography or ECG findings. Peripheral vascular disease was diagnosed by performing doppler echosonography or arteriography. Myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident was diagnosed by percutaneous coronary intervention and computerized tomography, respectively.

The data collected from patients' history included age, gender, cause of ESRD, duration of chronic hemodialysis programme and cardiovascular morbidity.

The whole blood with ethylendiamintetraacetic acid (EDTA) was used (5 ml of whole blood stored at +4[degrees]C for less than 4 days, or at -20[degrees]C for a longer period) for DNA extraction.

The extraction was performed by macro-method of genomic DNA isolation [18]. This method is based on cell lysis, which is commonly achieved by chemical and physical method-blending, grinding or sonicating the sample. The aim is to remove proteins, RNA and other macromolecules. Deoxyribonucleic acid is then precipitated by ice-cold ethanol or isopropanol.

Genotyping was performed by the method of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCR was carried out in small reaction tubes (0.2 ml volumes) in a thermal cycler. The thermal cycler heats and cools the reaction tubes to achieve the temperatures required at each step of the reaction. One cycle includes:

--denaturation of DNA by heating the reaction to 94-96[degrees]C;

--annealing of the primers to the single-stranded DNA template at the temperature of 50-65[degrees]C, and

--primer elongation--DNA polymerase synthesizes a new DNA strand complementary to the DNA template strand at the temperature of 72[degrees]C.

PCR consists of a series of 25-45 repeated cycles, followed by the final product extension. To check whether the PCR generated the anticipated DNA fragment, agarose gel electrophoresis is employed for size separation of the PCR products. Positive samples are then used for further analysis by restriction enzymes.

Restriction enzymes can recognize and cut DNA wherever a specific short sequence occurs, in a process known as a restriction digest.

The DNA sample is broken into pieces (digested) by restriction enzymes and the resulting restriction fragments are separated according to their lengths by gel electrophoresis.

The size(s) of PCR products is determined by comparison with a DNA ladder (a molecular weight marker), which contains DNA fragments of known size, run on the gel alongside the PCR products.

Genotypization of I/D polymorphism DNA fragment of 287 pb, which represents a deletion fragment in introne 16, was amplified by PCR method. In the process of genotyping I/D polymorphism of ACE gene, the PCR products were fragments of 490 kb and 190 kb length and by using insertion specific set of primer products they were fragments of 335 bp length.

The reaction content volume was: 2,5 [micro]l PCR buffer solution, 0,75 [micro]l Mg[Cl.sub.2], 0,5 [micro]l dNTP, 1 [micro]l primer I, 1 [micro]l primer II, 0,2 [micro]l DNK polymerase, 5 [micro]l genomic DNA in the whole volume of 25 [micro]l. The reaction was performed in GeneAmp PCR System 2700, AB Applied Biosystem. The amplification consisted of 30 cycles, including denaturation at 94[degrees]C for 1 minute, primers annealing at 58[degrees]C for 1 minute and DNA extension/elongation at 72[degrees]C for 2 minutes. The fragments with no insertion (D alelle) and other with insertion (I alelle) of 190 bp i 490 bp respectively, were detected using 2% agarose gel electrophoresis with ethidium bromide.

To enhance DD genotyping specificity, the amplification was performed by using insertion specific set of primers in PCR conditions: 1 minute of denaturation at 94[degrees]C, followed by 30 cycles for 30 seconds at 94[degrees]C, 45 seconds at 67[degrees]C (annealing) and 2 minutes at 72[degrees]C (extension). Only the presence of I alelle generated the fragments of 335 bp length, which were identified by 3% agarose gel electrophoresis. An amplified sample with Alu sequence insertion represents a fragment of 490 bp (genotype II), while the DNA fragment of 190 bp represents a sequence deletion in alelle (genotype DD). The appearance of both fragments represents heterozygote (genotype ID).

The standard statistical analysis was performed in order to get the measures of variability and central tendency. Normal data were tested by parametric tools (Student's t test), while ordinal data were tested by non-parametric tools (chi-square test, Fisher's exact test). The correlation between genetic polymorphism and cardiovascular morbidity was tested by logistic regression analysis. Odds ratio was calculated to estimate the risk of ACE genotype for cardiovascular morbidity. Numeric values (patient's demographic characteristics) were analyzed by the Analysis Of Variance (ANOVA). The results are shown in tables.


The patients' mean age was 62.3 [+ or -] 11.4 years; 85 (43.4%) patients were women and 111 (56.6%) of them were men. The average duration of chronic hemodialysis was 8.4 [+ or -] 5.2 years.

The causes of ESRD were as follows: hypertension in 104 (53%) patients, diabetes mellitus in 25 (13%) patients, chronic glomerulonephritis in 20 (10%) patients, polycystic kidney disease in 21 (10.5%) patients, chronic pyelonephritis in 16 (8%) patients, Balkan endemic nephropathy in five (2.5%) patients, and systemic disease, myeloma multiplex, tumors and unknown causes in six (3%) patients.

As for cardiovascular morbidity at the moment of collecting data, hypertension was present in 178 patients (90.8%); 30 patients (15.3%) had myocardial infarction; 31 patient (15,8%) had cerebrovascular accident; a coronary artery disease was diagnosed in 89 patients (45.4%); a peripheral vascular disease was present in 18 patients (9.2%); 66 patients (33.8%) and 114 patients (58.2%) were diagnosed to have left ventricular hypertrophy and hyperlipidemia, respectively; while heart arrhythmia was present in 48 patients (24.5%).

Out of 196 patients, 55%, 35% and 10% of our patients had I/D, D/D and I/I genotype, respectively.

Table 1 shows the influence of I/D genotype on coronary artery disease and odds ratio for its development, although without statistical significance (p=0,49). In addition, the results show that neither does the presence of D allele in the gene affect the development of coronary artery disease (p=0.86), nor does the risk for its development significantly vary among the three different genotypes of ACE gene.

Table 2 shows the influence of ACE gene polymorphism and D allele on myocardial infarction but without a statistical significance (p=0.5). The same table also shows the risk of the ACE genotype for the development of myocardial infarction (p=0.786).

The results did not show an association between D allele and cerebrovascular accident, although there was a significant correlation between the ACE gene polymorphism and the incidence of cerebrovascular accident (Table 3).

There was no significant correlation between left ventricular hypertrophy and ACE genotypes (p=0.08). However, the presence of D allele in ACE gene showed a significant association with the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (p=0.025) (Table 4).

The ACE polymorphism showed a significant association with the incidence of hiperlipoproteinemia in our group of hemodialysis patients (p=0,05), while the presence of D allele itself did not show any influence on its development (Table 5).

The highest risk for hiperlipoproteinemia was found in the patients with I/D genotype, being three times higher than in I/I homozygotes (Table 5).

It was shown that the patients with D allele genotype had a significantly higher incidence of peripheral vascular disease, being 2.4 times higher in the patients with I/D genotype than the D/D homozygotes (Table 6).

The presence of D allele was not proved to have a significant influence on hypertension (p=0.32). The correlation between the ACE gene polymorphism and hypertension could not be taken into consideration because hypertension was present in over 90% of patients.

The results showed that neither the heart arrhythmia incidence (p=0.67) was correlated with the ACE gene polymorphism.


Although the effect I/D polymorphism of ACE gene is often studied with respect to cardiovascular and other complex disorders, its location in noncoding region makes it unlikely to be a function variant [11]. Since the nature and position of the functional polymorphism, which is responsible for plasma ACE levels, remains a mystery, investigators continue to use the I/D polymorphism as a valid marker for studying association between the unknown functional polymorphism and pathological conditions.

The results of this study have shown that I/D polymorphism of ACE gene is the most common genotype, that being in accordance with literature data, which shows that the distribution of ACE genotype in healthy population is almost the same in the population of dialysis patients. Odds ratio of ACE polymorphism for myocardial infarction was not significant. The first study reporting a positive association between the D allele and myocardial infarction was published in 1992, but later analyses showed different results [19]. While in one of the multicentre studies the DD genotype was found to be significantly more frequent in male patients with myocardial infarction than in the controls, particularly among low-risk individuals, this result was not replicated in a larger study done by Agerholm-Larsen et al. [16]. Three years later, the same research group published a meta-analysis, in which they included their own study and 21 other associated studies [16]. Five of these studies were large (over 600 patients), while the others were small. The result showed the positive association between allele D and myocardial infarction. The authors concluded that small studies showed a more pronounced effect on risk of myocardial infarction, so that it could be the reason for the overall result to be positive [14-16]. Despite the idea that small studies could be a reason for bias, because of lower level of quality control or study design, that might also indicate the importance of ACE gene polymorphism in certain subgroups.

The results of this study did not show an influence of ACE gene polymorphism on the development of coronary artery disease. In studies where coronary calcification were used as a measurement of atherosclerosis, investigators failed to find a significant association between ACE polymorphism and atherosclerosis [19-21]. In general, a moderate positive association between the D allele and atherosclerosis is expected, particularly in patients who have other cardiovascular risk factors. Investigators believe the D allele is not clinically important in coronary heart disease in the general population, but it may play an important role in certain groups of patients.

The results of this study showed a significant association of ACE gene polymorphism and hyperlipidemia. According to literature data, this kind of association has been studied only in patients with familial hyperlipidemia so far, where it has been shown that D allele might be an additional factor for the development of this hereditary disease. There are no literature data on the population of dialysis patients.

The results of this study showed a significant influence of ACE polymorphism on cerebrovascular accident. Two meta-analyses reported significant positive associations between the D allele and ischemic stroke [11]. Some studies found the association of D allele only with lacunar stroke, while others showed a positive association of D allele and carotid stenosis and cerebrovascular accident. The finding of an association of the D allele with a severe cerebrovascular disease may contribute to the understanding of the high prevalence of this complication in end stage renal disease. Many factors could contribute to these findings and they cannot be controlled because of dysregulated homeostasis in ESRD. Although the role of local and environmental factors (smoking) cannot be ruled out, larger studies will be needed to detect them.

This study showed that the patients with D allele had a significantly higher incidence of left ventricular hypertrophy. That may be the consequence of the action of localized RAS on the vascular function and structure, hypertrophic effects including extracellular matrix production. An unexpectedly small number of patients with left ventricular hypertrophy in our study might be ascribed to different diagnostic tools, where most of them were diagnosed using ECG instead of echosonography. That could also have affected our findings, which showed no association between ACE polymorphism and left ventricular hypertrophy.

Although it is known that a subject carrying D allele has higher plasma levels of ACE, which is usually associated with high blood pressure, the D allele has not been shown as a significant risk factor for hypertension in this study. Previous investigations came to controversial findings. The first meta-analysis on this topic, published by Staessen et al, included 23 studies with 6923 subjects and indicated a 10% increased risk of hypertension in DD versus II genotype, which was not statistically significant [15]. There was, however, a strong indication of heterogeneity among the reports. That is why the sensitivity analyses were performed in subgroups based on gender, ethnicity, mean age and genotyping method; and then, there was a significant relationship between the D allele and hypertension in women and Asians, whereas no association was found in all other subgroups. Another meta-analysis, done by AgerholmLarsen et al, was published in 2000 and it was restricted to Caucasians. It included 19 studies with a very little overlap with previous meta-analyses [16]. The results also indicated that ACE genotype did not affect hypertension. Of 26 association studies reviewed by Agarwal et al. in 2005, 12 reported positive results and 14 reported negative results [17].

The experiments in animals have shown that a 3-fold increase in plasma ACE level does not affect blood pressure. The reason of no association between ACE genotype and hypertension might be multifactorial causes of high blood pressure, which are always present in hemodialysis patients (hypervolemia, inadequate salt excretion) [22]. The carriers of the D allele seem to be less sensitive to sodium state than the I allele and could therefore be less responsive to sodium removal by ultrafiltration in dialysis [22]. In addition, antihypertensive therapy might have an influence on results regarding the association between ACE polymorphism and hypertension. It has been concluded that controversial results could be a consequence of cumulative influence of plasma ACE level, environmental factors and genetics.

Patients on chronic hemodialysis are constantly exposed to complex stimulation of RAS, whose activation affects many target organs. That is why patients who have genotype associated with a higher expression of RAS are more prone to organ damage and even higher mortality rate, especially when multiple interactions with other risk factors are included [23].

It has been shown so far that certain genes may cause some of cardiovascular diseases in interaction with other genes and environmental factors. Therefore, much more additional research is needed to make the definitive conclusion about the influence of gene polymorphism on cardiovascular morbidity.


In conclusion, the angiotensin-converting enzyme gene polymorphism is associated with the development of cerebrovascular accidents and hyperlipoproteinaemia. Allele D increases the risk for development of left ventricular hypertrophy and peripheral vascular disease significantly in hemodialysis patients. Longer follow-up is needed to reach the definitive conclusion about the influence of angiotensin-converting enzyme polymorphism on cardiovascular morbidity and its importance in everyday clinical practice.

CVD    --cardiovascular disease
ESRD   --end stage renal disease
ACE    --angiotensin-converting enzyme
RAS    --renin-angiotensin system
RAAS   --renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system
ECG    --electrocardiogram
RNA    --ribonucleic acid
DNA    --deoxyribonucleic acid
PCR    --polymerase chain reaction
I      --insertion

DOI: 10.2298/MPNS1410297T

Rad je primljen 15. XII 2013.

Recenziran 2. V 2014.

Prihvacen za stampu 12. VI 2014.



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Jelena S. TOSIC (1), Zivka DURIC (1), Jovan POPOVIC (1), Ivana BUZADZIC (2), Sinisa DIMKOVIC (3,4) and Nada DIMKOVIC (1,4)

Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, Belgrade, Serbia Department of Kidney Diseases nd Metabolism Disorders with Dialysis "Dr. Vasilije Jovanovic" (1) Ward for Cytogenetics and Prenatal Diagnostics (2) Department of Cardiovascular Diseases (3) University of Belgrade, Faculty of Medicine (4)

Corresponding Author: Dr Jelena Tosic, Klinicko bolnicki centar Zvezdara, 11000 Beograd, Dimitrija Tucovica 161, E-mail:
Table 1. Incidence of coronary artery disease regarding ACE
polymorphism and logistic regression

Tabela 1. Incidencija koronarne aterijske bolesti u zavisnosti od
genotipova za polimorfizam angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima i
regresiona analiza


                    No/Ne   Yes/Da    OR      95% C.I.       p

ACE     I/I     N    10       9      0.794   0.298-2.111   0.643
                %   52.6     47.4

        I/D     N    63       45     1.144   0.414-3.162   0.796
                %   58.3     41.7

                N    34       35
        D/D                                                0.491
                %   49.3     50.7

      I/D+D/D   N    97       80     0.916   0.355-2.365   0.857
                %   54.8     45.2

CAD--coronary artery disease/KAB--koronarna arterijska bolest

Table 2. Incidence of miocardial infarction regarding ACE
polymorphism and logistic regression

Tabela 2. Incidencija infarkta miokarda u odnosu na polimorfizam
angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima I regresiona analiza


                        No/Ne   Yes/Da    OR      95% C.I.       p

ACE       I/I       N    15       4      0.492   0.131-1.853   0.294
                    %   78.9%   21.1%

          I/D       N    90       18     0.750   0.223-2.542   0.750
                    %   83.3%   16.7%

                    N    61       8
                    %   88.4%   11.6%

          D/D+I/D   N    151      26     0.646   0.199-2.099   0.646
                    %   85.3%   14.7%

MI--miocardial infarction/IM--infarkt miokarda

Table 3. Incidence of cerebrovascular accident regarding ACE
polymorphism in haemodialysis patients

Tabela 3. Incidencija cerebrovaskularnog insulta u odnosu na
polimorfizam angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima kod bolesnika na


                    No/Ne   Yes/Da     P

ACE     D/D     N    56       15
                %   78.9%   21.1%

        I/D     N    92       14
                %   86.8%   13.2%    0.05

        I/I     N    19       0
                %   100%     .0%

      D/D+I/D   N    148      39     0.257
                %   12.3%   17.7%

CVA--cerebrovascular accident/CH--cerebrovaskularni insult

Table 4. Incidence of left ventricular hypertrophy regarding ACE
polymorphism in haemodialysis patients

Tabela 4. Incidencija hipertrofije leve komore u odnosu na
polimorfizam angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima kod bolesnika na


                    No/Ne   Yes/Da     P

ACE     D/D     N    44       25
                %   63.8%   36.2%

        I/D     N    69       39     0.08
                %   63.9%   36.1%

        I/I     N    17       2
                %   89.5%   10.5%

      D/D+I/D   N    113      19     0.025
                %   63.8%   36.2%

LVH--left ventricular hypertrophy/HLK--hipertrofija leve komore

Table 5. Incidence of hyperlipoproteinaemia regarding ACE
polymorphism and logostic regression

Tabela 5. Incidencija hiperlipoproteinemije u zavisnosti od
genotipova za polimorfizam angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima i
regresiona analiza


                   No/Ne   Yes/Da    P      OR     95% C.I.       p

ACE    I/I     N    12       7                                  0.054
               %   63.2%    6.8%

       I/D     N    37       70    0.05    3.056  1.092-8.553   0.033
               %   34.5%    65.5%

       D/D     N    33       37            1.817  0.630-5.240   0.269
               %    47%      53%

     D/D+I/D   N    69      107    0.067   2.473                0.075
               %   39.2%   60.8%


Table 6. Relative risk for development of peripheral vascular disease
regarding the ACE polymorphism

Tabela 6. Relativni rizik za nastanak periferne vaskularne bolesti u
odnosu na polimorfizam angiotenzin konvertujuceg enzima

ACE                        PVD/PVB

                    No/Ne       Yes/Da     OR       95% C.I        p

D/D       n (%)   60 (88.2)    8 (11.8)                          0.620
I/I       n (%)    18 (90)      2 (10)    1.636   0.195-13.717   0.650
I/D       n (%)   99 (90.8)    9 (9.2)    2.400   0.281-20.492   0.424
I/D+D/D   n (%)   159 (90.3)   17 (9.7)   1.925   0.242-15.326   0.005

PVD--peripheral vascular desease/PVB--periferna vaskularna bolest
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Title Annotation:Original study/Originalni naucni rad
Author:Tosic, Jelena S.; Duric, Zivka; Popovic, Jovan; Buzadzic, Ivana; Dimkovic, Sinisa; Dimkovic, Nada
Publication:Medicinski Pregled
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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