The participation of the kallikrein-kinin system, comprising the serine proteases kallikreins, the protein substrates kininogens and the effective peptides kinins, in some pathological processes like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases is still a matter of controversy. The use of different experimental set-ups in concert with the development of potent and specific inhibitors and antagonists for the system has highlighted its importance but the results still lack conclusivity. Over the last few years, transgenic and gene-targeting technologies associated with molecular biology tools have provided specific information about the elusive role of the kallikrein-kinin system in the control of blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis. cDNA and genomic sequences for kinin receptors B2 and B1 from different species were isolated and shown to encode G-protein-coupled receptors and the structure and pharmacology of the receptors were characterized. Transgenic animals expressing an overactive kallikrein-kinin system were established to study the cardiovascular effects of these alterations and the results of these investigations further corroborate the importance of this system in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. Knockout animals for B2 and B1 receptors are available and their analysis also points to the role of these receptors in cardiovascular regulation and inflammatory processes. In this paper the most recent and relevant genetic animal models developed for the study of the kallikrein-kinin system are reviewed, and the advances they brought to the understanding of the biological role of this system are discussed
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