Discovery of Renin

Shankar Prasad Yadav
B.P.Koirala Institute of Health SciencesDharan, Nepal

Current knowledge and understanding ofthe Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) and its effects on organ systems are based on the discoveryof renin made by Robert Tigerstedtin the 1890s.Tigerstedtprofessor of physiology, alongside his student P.G. Bergman,conducted experiments to prove the hypothesis that kidneys contributeto hypertension.1

Firstly, tissue extracts were methodically prepared from rabbit kidneys and subsequently injected intothe jugular veins of rabbits.A rise in blood pressure followed each injectionOther important findings included theobservation that the extract from the cortex led to a rise in blood pressure, while an extract from the medullary portion didnot. This observationbased on a simple experiment, allowed the conclusion that the substance causing hypertension originated from the cortex. Tigerstedt and Bergman also demonstrated that in a nephrectomized rabbit, blood injected from the renal arteriesincreased the blood pressure, leading to the conclusion that the substances causing hypertension are secreted into the bloodstreamInterestingly,during the experiment,it was noted that there was no altered activity in the heart and that this pressure effect was not neurallymediated. These conclusions were based on the observation that the pressure increased despite the high cervical section or crushing of the spinal cord. Since the substance and the effect werepredominantly related to the kidney (renal), the term “renin” was coined.1,2  

It was not until 1939 when reninwas found to be an enzyme rather an effectorand responsible for the production of angiotensin II,that the actual vasoconstrictor responsible for hypertension was properly understood.3


  1. Tigerstedt R, Bergman PG. Niere und KreislaufSkand Arch Physiol. 1898(8):223–271
  2. Philips M.I, Schmidt-Ott KM. The discovery of renin 100 years ago. News Phsiol. Sci 1999(14). 271-274
  3. Braun-Menendez E, and I. H. Page. Suggested revision of nomenclature: angiotensin. Science 1958:127: 242

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