With great sadness we learned of the death on March 4, 1998, of Professor Alberto C. Taquini, one of the discoverers of angiotensin, a pioneer of hypertension research, and a leading figure in cardiovascular and clinical research in Latin America for the past 60 years. Professor Taquini was 93 years old when he died after a brief illness.
Dr Alberto C. Taquini was born on December 6, 1905, in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a member of the distinguished group of Argentine scientists surrounding Dr Bernardo Houssay, winner of the Nobel Prize of Medicine and Physiology (1946), at the Department of Physiology of the School of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires. Together with Luis Federico Leloir (Nobel Prize of Chemistry, 1970), Eduardo Braun-Menéndez, and Juan Carlos Fasciolo, Dr Taquini described the enzymatic nature of the renin-angiotensin system and its link with hypertension.
On the basis of the experiments of Goldblatt et al1 published in 1934, Houssay and Fasciolo demonstrated an increase in blood pressure when grafting an ischemic kidney to the neck of a nephrectomized dog.2 Following on these initial results, Houssay and Taquini3 showed the presence of a pressor substance in the blood obtained from the renal vein of an ischemic kidney. Taquini obtained a fellowship at the end of 1938 to work in the Fatigue Laboratory at Harvard University with Dr B. Dill and Dr Paul D. White. His place on the Buenos Aires team studying renal ischemia was taken by Eduardo Braun-Menéndez, who had just arrived from the United Kingdom. The Argentine group postulated an enzyme-substrate type of reaction,4 5 while Page and his group, working simultaneously in Cleveland on renal pressor mechanisms, proposed that there was a plasma activator of renin that resulted in the production of a crystalline pressor substance, which they called angiotonin.6 7 Later on, E. Braun-Menéndez, J.C. Fasciolo, L.F. Leloir, J.M. Muñoz, and A.C. Taquini published in a book the original work of the Buenos Aires group.8 This book was translated into English by Dr Louis Dexter who, at the beginning of the 1940s, had been Houssay’s fellow at the Department of Physiology of the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. The renin-angiotensin system has since been demonstrated to be related to numerous physiological regulatory processes, both in normal and pathophysiological conditions, and to play critical roles in the regulation of circulation, high blood pressure, heart failure, and coronary artery disease.
Dr Taquini was chair of Internal Medicine (1952–1956) and of Physiology (1961–1970) in the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. He was a major personality participating in many areas of scientific research in physiology, cardiology, and internal medicine. He trained a significant number of highly qualified investigators and university professors. Because of his achievements in medicine and science, Dr Taquini was recognized as an outstanding national and international personality in the world of cardiology and hypertension. For more than 50 years, between 1942 and the date of his death, he was the director of the Centro de Investigaciones Cardiológicas of the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. He was one of the first full-time university professors in Argentina.
Dr Taquini was President of the International Society of Cardiology (1954–1962); the International Council of Hypertension (1954–1968); the Argentine Society of Clinical Investigation (1957–1958); twice of the Argentine Society of Cardiology; and the Argentine Association for the Progress of Science (1967–1987). Dr Taquini received about 100 national and international awards and was named an Honorary Member of the American College of Physicians, the American Physiological Society, the American Heart Association, the Cardiology Society of Belgium, the Cardiology Society of France, and the International Academy of Medicine. He was a member of the National Academy of Medicine of Argentina. He was the first investigator to reach the highest category in the National Research Council in Science and Technology of Argentina (CONICET). He was Emeritus Professor of the University of Buenos Aires and Visiting Professor at the University of California, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Cornell in the United States; the University of Toronto in Canada; Oxford in Great Britain; University of Milan in Italy; University of San Marcos in Peru; and the University of Chile. He was the first Secretary of State for Science and Technology of Argentina.
Dr Taquini was the single author of four books, he collaborated in several others, and he published more than 350 scientific papers. He was a member of the editorial committees of many journals: Medicina, Revista de la Sociedad Argentina de Cardiología, Acta Physiologica et Pharmacologica Latino-Americana, American Heart Journal, and Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et Thérapie, among others.
Dr Taquini remained fully active until the end of his life, the distinguished and always alert and very informed gentleman and elder statesman of Argentine cardiology and science, still discussing and writing about angiotensin receptor subtypes when already in his 90s. He played golf and drove his car until only a couple of months before his death.
He was the mentor and role model for a legion of scientists in Argentina and Latin America. He was an example of a dedicated scientist and concerned physician who lived in a time when technology was limited but intelligence supreme in finding ways to open doors to new worlds of knowledge that would produce unexpected results in the future. Those initial experiments leading to the discovery of angiotensin could hardly have anticipated the extraordinary developments that took place much later, as the role of the renin-angiotensin system in the cardiovascular system, the kidney, the adrenals, and the brain was discovered. This we know has led to the wide use today of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonists in the treatment of hypertension and heart failure and for renal protection. This is to a large measure the legacy of Dr Alberto C. Taquini and his coworkers.
Nidia Basso, MD
Centro de Investigaciones Cardiológicas
University of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ernesto L. Schiffrin, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Clinical Research Institute
University of Montreal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
(Editor’s Note. Dr Basso was a longtime collaborator of Dr A.C. Taquini and of his son, the late Professor Carlos M. Taquini, and is an investigator at the Centro de Investigaciones Cardiológicas of the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. Dr Schiffrin is Professor of Medicine, University of Montreal, Director, MRC Multidisciplinary Research Group on Hypertension at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, and a member of the Division of Internal Medicine at the University of Montreal Hospital Center. He also trained and was an instructor in the late 1960s in the Department of Physiology headed by Dr Taquini.)
Goldblatt H, Lynch J, Hanzal RF, Summerville WW. Studies on experimental hypertension: the production of persistent elevation of systolic blood pressure by means of renal ischemia. J Exp Med.. 1934;59:347.
Houssay BA, Fasciolo JC. Secreción hipertensora del riñón isquemiado. Rev Soc Argent Biol.. 1937;13:284.
Houssay BA, Taquini AC. Acción vasoconstrictora de la sangre venosa del riñón isquemiado. Rev Soc Argent Biol.. 1938;14:5.
Braun-Menéndez E, Fasciolo JC, Leloir LF, Muñoz JM. La substancia hipertensora de la sangre del riñón isquemiado. Rev Soc Argent Biol.. 1939;15:420.
Braun-Menéndez E, Fasciolo JC, Leloir LF, Muñoz JM. The substance causing renal hypertension. J Physiol.. 1940;98:283.
Page IH, Helmer OM. A crystalline pressor substance, angiotonin, resulting from the reaction between renin and renin activator. Proc Soc Clin Invest.. 1939;12:17.
Page IH, Helmer OM. A crystalline pressor substance, angiotonin, resulting from the reaction between renin and renin activator. J Exp Med.. 1940;71:29.
Braun-Menéndez E, Fasciolo JC, Leloir LF, Muñoz JM, Taquini AC. Hipertensión Arterial Nefrógena. Buenos Aires, Argentina: El Ateneo; 1943.