The endothelium plays a fundamental role in maintaining vascular homeostasis by releasing factors that regulate local blood flow, systemic blood pressure, and the reactivity of leukocytes and platelets. Accordingly, endothelial dysfunction underpins many cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Herein, we evaluated mice with endothelial-specific deletion of Nppc, which encodes C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), and determined that this mediator is essential for multiple aspects of vascular regulation. Specifically, disruption of CNP leads to endothelial dysfunction, hypertension, atherogenesis, and aneurysm. Moreover, we identified natriuretic peptide receptor-C (NPR-C) as the cognate receptor that primarily underlies CNP-dependent vasoprotective functions and developed small-molecule NPR-C agonists to target this pathway. Administration of NPR-C agonists promotes a vasorelaxation of isolated resistance arteries and a reduction in blood pressure in wild-type animals that is diminished in mice lacking NPR-C. This work provides a mechanistic explanation for genome-wide association studies that have linked the NPR-C (Npr3) locus with hypertension by demonstrating the importance of CNP/NPR-C signaling in preserving vascular homoeostasis. Furthermore, these results suggest that the CNP/NPR-C pathway has potential as a disease-modifying therapeutic target for cardiovascular disorders.
DPP4 is an ubiquitously expressed cell-surface protease that is shedded to the circulation as soluble DPP4 (sDPP4). We recently identified sDPP4 as a novel adipokine potentially linking obesity to the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study was to investigate direct effects of sDPP4 on human vascular smooth muscle cells (hVSMCs) and to identify responsible signaling pathways. Using physiological concentrations of sDPP4, we could observe a concentration-dependent activation of ERK1/2 (3-fold) after 6h, which remained stable for up to 24h. Additionally, sDPP4 treatment induced a 1.5-fold phosphorylation of the NF-?B subunit p65. In accordance with sDPP4-induced stress and inflammatory signaling, sDPP4 also stimulates hVSMC proliferation. Furthermore we could observe an increased expression and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 (2.5-, 2.4- and 1.5-fold, respectively) by the sDPP4 treatment. All direct effects of sDPP4 on signaling, proliferation and inflammation could completely be prevented by DPP4 inhibition. Bioinformatic analysis and signaling signature induced by sDPP4 suggest that sDPP4 might be an agonist for PAR2. After the silencing of PAR2, the sDPP4-induced ERK activation as well as the proliferation was totally abolished. Additionally, the sDPP4-induced upregulation of IL-6 and IL-8 could completely be prevented by the PAR2 silencing. In conclusion, we show for the first time that sDPP4 directly activates the MAPK and NF-?B signaling cascade involving PAR2 and resulting in the induction of inflammation and proliferation of hVSMC. Thus, our in vitro data might extend the current view of sDPP4 action and shed light on cardiovascular effects of DPP4-inhibitors.
Adipose tissue is acknowledged as an endocrine organ that releases bioactive factors termed adipokines. Visfatin was initially identified as a novel adipokine with insulin-mimetic properties in mice. This adipokine was identical to two previously described molecules, namely, pre-B cell colony-enhancing factor (PBEF) and the enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt). Enhanced circulating visfatin/Nampt levels have been reported in metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, visfatin/Nampt circulating levels correlate with markers of systemic inflammation. In cardiovascular diseases, visfatin/Nampt was initially proposed as a clinical marker of atherosclerosis, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular damage, with a potential prognostic value. Nevertheless, beyond being a surrogate clinical marker, visfatin/Nampt is an active player promoting vascular inflammation, and atherosclerosis. Visfatin/Nampt effects on cytokine and chemokine secretion, macrophage survival, leukocyte recruitment by endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle inflammation and plaque destabilization make of this adipokine an active factor in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Further research is required to fully understand the mechanisms mediating the cellular actions of this adipokine and to better characterize the factors regulating visfatin/Nampt expression and release in all these pathologic scenarios. Only then, we will be able to conclude whether visfatin/Nampt is a therapeutical target in cardiometabolic diseases.
The heptapeptide angiotensin-(1-7) is a biologically active metabolite of angiotensin II, the predominant peptide of the renin-angiotensin system. Recently, we have shown that the receptor Mas is associated with angiotensin-(1-7)-induced signalling and mediates, at least in part, the vasodilatory properties of angiotensin-(1-7). However, it remained controversial whether an additional receptor could account for angiotensin-(1-7)-induced vasorelaxation. Here, we used two different angiotensin-(1-7) antagonists, A779 and d-Pro-angiotensin-(1-7), to address this question and also to study their influence on the vasodilatation induced by bradykinin. Isolated mesenteric microvessels from both wild-type and Mas-deficient C57Bl/6 mice were precontracted with noradrenaline, and vascular reactivity to angiotensin-(1-7) and bradykinin was subsequently studied using a small-vessel myograph. Furthermore, mechanisms for Mas effects were investigated in primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Both angiotensin-(1-7) and bradykinin triggered a concentration-dependent vasodilatation in wild-type microvessels, which was absent in the presence of a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor. In these vessels, the pre-incubation with the Mas antagonists A779 or d-Pro-angiotensin-(1-7) totally abolished the vasodilatory capacity of both angiotensin-(1-7) and bradykinin, which was nitric oxide mediated. Accordingly, Mas-deficient microvessels lacked the capacity to relax in response to either angiotensin-(1-7) or bradykinin. Pre-incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells with A779 prevented bradykinin-mediated NO generation and NO synthase phosphorylation at serine 1177. The angiotensin-(1-7) antagonists A779 and d-Pro-angiotensin-(1-7) equally block Mas, which completely controls the angiotensin-(1-7)-induced vasodilatation in mesenteric microvessels. Importantly, Mas also appears to be a critical player in NO-mediated vasodilatation induced by renin-angiotensin system-independent agonists by altering phosphorylation of NO synthase.
Visfatin is a multifaceted adipokine whose circulating levels are enhanced in different metabolic diseases. Extracellular visfatin can exert various deleterious effects on vascular cells, including inflammation and proliferation. Limited evidence exists, however, on the capacity of human vascular cells to synthesize and release visfatin by themselves, under basal or pro-inflammatory conditions.
Visfatin, also known as extracellular pre-B-cell colony-enhancing factor (PBEF) and nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt), is an adipocytokine whose circulating levels are enhanced in metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. Circulating visfatin levels have been positively associated with vascular damage and endothelial dysfunction. Here, we investigated the ability of visfatin to directly impair vascular reactivity in mesenteric microvessels from both male Sprague-Dawley rats and patients undergoing non-urgent, non-septic abdominal surgery. The pre-incubation of rat microvessels with visfatin (50 and 100 ng/mL) did not modify the contractile response to noradrenaline (1 pmol/L to 30 µmol/L), as determined using a small vessel myograph. However, visfatin (10 to 100 ng/mL) concentration-dependently impaired the relaxation to acetylcholine (ACh; 100 pmol/L to 3 µmol/L), without interfering with the endothelium-independent relaxation to sodium nitroprusside (1 nmol/L to 3 µmol/L). In both cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells and rat microvascular preparations, visfatin (50 ng/mL) stimulated nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase activity, as determined by lucigenin-derived chemiluminiscence. The relaxation to ACh impaired by visfatin was restored by the NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin (10 µmol/L). Additionally, the Nampt inhibitor APO866 (10 mmol/L to 10 µmol/L), but not an insulin receptor-blocking antibody, also prevented the stimulation of NADPH oxidase and the relaxation impairment elicited by visfatin. Accordingly, the product of Nampt activity nicotinamide mononucleotide (100 nmol/L to 1 mmol/L) stimulated endothelial NADPH oxidase activity and concentration-dependently impaired ACh-induced vasorelaxation. In human mesenteric microvessels pre-contracted with 35 mmol/L potassium chloride, the endothelium-dependent vasodilation to bradykinin (1 nmol/L to 3 µmol/L) was equally impaired by visfatin and restored upon co-incubation with APO866. In conclusion, visfatin impairs endothelium-dependent relaxation through a mechanism involving NADPH oxidase stimulation and relying on Nampt enzymatic activity, and therefore arises as a potential new player in the development of endothelial dysfunction.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key factor in angiogenesis and vascular permeability which is associated with many pathological processes. 2,5-hydroxybenzene sulfonate (DHBS; dobesilate) is a small molecule with anti-angiogenic activity that has been described as an inhibitor of fibroblast growth factors (FGF). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of DHBS on VEGF-induced actions. The effects of DHBS were evaluated on VEGF-induced proliferation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and rat aorta relaxation, as well as on in vivo VEGF-induced skin vascular permeability and neovascularization in rats. DHBS at 50 and 100 ?M concentration significantly inhibited the proliferation of HUVEC induced by VEGF (10 ng/ml), without significantly affecting HUVEC proliferation in the absence of VEGF. Rapid VEGF-induced activation of Akt in HUVEC was also prevented by DHBS (100 ?M). Additionally, DHBS (2 ?M) specifically inhibited the relaxation of rat aorta induced by VEGF (0.1 to 30 ng/ml), but not endothelium-dependent relaxation to acetylcholine (1 nM to 10 ?M). The in vivo enhancement of vascular permeability caused by VEGF injection (50 ?l at 10 ng/ml) in rat skin was also inhibited by DHBS co-administration (200 ?M) (74.8±3.8% inhibition of dye extravasation). Administration of DHBS (200 mg/kg/day; i.p.) also reduced VEGF-induced angiogenesis in vivo. DHBS inhibits main responses elicited in vitro and in vivo by VEGF. As a dual antagonist of VEGF and FGF activities, DHBS could be of therapeutic interest in the treatment of diseases related to VEGF/FGF overproduction and excessive angiogenesis.
Apoptosis and inflammatory/oxidative stress have been associated with hyperglycemia in human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) and other cell types. We and others have highlighted the role of early products of non-enzymatic protein glycation in inducing proinflammatory conditions and increasing apoptotic rates in HPMCs. Loss of HPMCs seems to be a hallmark of complications associated with peritoneal membrane dysfunction. The aim of this work is to elucidate the mechanisms by which Amadori adducts may act upon HPMC apoptosis.
Hyperglycemia is acknowledged as an independent risk factor for developing diabetes-associated atherosclerosis. At present, most therapeutic approaches are targeted at a tight glycemic control in diabetic patients, although this fails to prevent macrovascular complications of the disease. Indeed, it remains highly controversial whether or not the mere elevation of extracellular D-glucose can directly promote vascular inflammation, which favors early pro-atherosclerotic events.
Vascular endothelial dysfunction occurs during the human aging process, and it is considered as a crucial event in the development of many vasculopathies. We investigated the underlying mechanisms of this process, particularly those related with oxidative stress and inflammation, in the vasculature of subjects aged 18-91 years without cardiovascular disease or risk factors. In isolated mesenteric microvessels from these subjects, an age-dependent impairment of the endothelium-dependent relaxations to bradykinin was observed. Similar results were observed by plethysmography in the forearm blood flow in response to acetylcholine. In microvessels from subjects aged less than 60 years, most of the bradykinin-induced relaxation was due to nitric oxide release while the rest was sensitive to cyclooxygenase (COX) blockade. In microvessels from subjects older than 60 years, this COX-derived vasodilatation was lost but a COX-derived vasoconstriction occurred. Evidence for age-related vascular oxidant and inflammatory environment was observed, which could be related to the development of endothelial dysfunction. Indeed, aged microvessels showed superoxide anions (O(2)(-)) and peroxynitrite (ONOO(-)) formation, enhancement of NADPH oxidase and inducible NO synthase expression. Pharmacological interference of COX, thromboxane A(2)/prostaglandin H(2) receptor, O(2)(-), ONOO(-), inducible NO synthase, and NADPH oxidase improved the age-related endothelial dysfunction. In situ vascular nuclear factor-kappaB activation was enhanced with age, which correlated with endothelial dysfunction. We conclude that the age-dependent endothelial dysfunction in human vessels is due to the combined effect of oxidative stress and vascular wall inflammation.
Endothelium-dependent relaxations in human adult mesenteric microvessels involve 3 different main mechanisms: cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived prostanoids, nitric oxide (NO), and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF), which elicits vascular smooth muscle hyperpolarization and relaxation. There are some pathological conditions with an abnormal balance between mesenteric vasoconstriction and vasodilatation inputs leading to endothelial dysfunction and tissue injury.
Vascular aging is a key process determining health status of aged population. Aging is an independent cardiovascular risk factor associated to an impairment of endothelial function, which is a very early and important event leading to cardiovascular disease. Vascular aging, formerly being considered an immutable and inexorable risk factor, is now viewed as a target process for intervention in order to achieve a healthier old age. A further knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the age-related vascular dysfunction is required to design an adequate therapeutic strategy to prevent or restore this impairment of vascular functionality. Among the proposed mechanisms that contribute to age-dependent endothelial dysfunction, this review is focused on the following aspects occurring into the vascular wall: (1) the reduction of nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, caused by diminished NO synthesis and/or by augmented NO scavenging due to oxidative stress, leading to peroxynitrite formation (ONOO(-)); (2) the possible sources involved in the enhancement of oxidative stress; (3) the increased activity of vasoconstrictor factors; and (4) the development of a low-grade pro-inflammatory environment. Synergisms and interactions between all these pathways are also analyzed. Finally, a brief summary of some cellular mechanisms related to endothelial cell senescence (including telomere and telomerase, stress-induced senescence, as well as sirtuins) are implemented, as they are likely involved in the age-dependent endothelial dysfunction, as well as in the lower vascular repairing capacity observed in the elderly. Prevention or reversion of those mechanisms leading to endothelial dysfunction through life style modifications or pharmacological interventions could markedly improve cardiovascular health in older people.
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