In the vascular system, the receptor for the signaling molecule NO, guanylyl cyclase (GC), mediates smooth muscle relaxation and inhibition of platelet aggregation by increasing intracellular cyclic GMP (cGMP) concentration. The heterodimeric GC exists in 2 isoforms (α1-GC, α2-GC) with indistinguishable regulatory properties. Here, we used mice deficient in either α1- or α2-GC to dissect their biological functions. In platelets, α1-GC, the only isoform present, was responsible for NO-induced inhibition of aggregation. In aortic tissue, α1-GC, as the major isoform (94%), mediated vasodilation. Unexpectedly, α2-GC, representing only 6% of the total GC content in WT, also completely relaxed α1-deficient vessels albeit higher NO concentrations were needed. The functional impact of the low cGMP levels produced by α2-GC in vivo was underlined by pronounced blood pressure increases upon NO synthase inhibition. As a fractional amount of GC was sufficient to mediate vasorelaxation at higher NO concentrations, we conclude that the majority of NO-sensitive GC is not required for cGMP-forming activity but as NO receptor reserve to increase sensitivity toward the labile messenger NO in vivo.
Evanthia Mergia, Andreas Friebe, Oliver Dangel, Michael Russwurm, Doris Koesling
To determine whether endothelial Akt could affect vascular lesion formation, mutant mice with a constitutively active Akt transgene, which could be inducibly targeted to the vascular endothelium using the tet-off system (EC-Akt Tg mice), were generated. After withdrawal of doxycycline, EC-Akt Tg mice demonstrated increased endothelial-specific Akt activity and NO production. After blood flow cessation caused by carotid artery ligation, neointimal formation was attenuated in induced EC-Akt Tg mice compared with noninduced EC-Akt Tg mice and control littermates. To determine the role of eNOS in mediating these effects, mice were treated with Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME). Neointimal formation was attenuated to a lesser extent in induced EC-Akt Tg mice treated with L-NAME, suggesting that some of the vascular protective effects were NO independent. Indeed, endothelial activation of Akt resulted in less EC apoptosis in ligated arteries. Immunostaining demonstrated decreased inflammatory and proliferative changes in induced EC-Akt Tg mice after vascular injury. These findings indicate that endothelial activation of Akt suppresses lesion formation via increased NO production, preservation of functional endothelial layer, and suppression of inflammatory and proliferative changes in the vascular wall. These results suggest that enhancing endothelial Akt activity alone could have therapeutic benefits after vascular injury.
Yasushi Mukai, Yoshiyuki Rikitake, Ichiro Shiojima, Sebastian Wolfrum, Minoru Satoh, Kyosuke Takeshita, Yukio Hiroi, Salvatore Salomone, Hyung-Hwan Kim, Laura E. Benjamin, Kenneth Walsh, James K. Liao
During intravascular hemolysis in human disease, vasomotor tone and organ perfusion may be impaired by the increased reactivity of cell-free plasma hemoglobin (Hb) with NO. We experimentally produced acute intravascular hemolysis in a canine model in order to test the hypothesis that low levels of decompartmentalized or cell-free plasma Hb will severely reduce NO bioavailability and produce vasomotor instability. Importantly, in this model the total intravascular Hb level is unchanged; only the compartmentalization of Hb within the erythrocyte membrane is disrupted. Using a full-factorial design, we demonstrate that free water–induced intravascular hemolysis produces dose-dependent systemic vasoconstriction and impairs renal function. We find that these physiologic changes are secondary to the stoichiometric oxidation of endogenous NO by cell-free plasma oxyhemoglobin. In this model, 80 ppm of inhaled NO gas oxidized 85–90% of plasma oxyhemoglobin to methemoglobin, thereby inhibiting endogenous NO scavenging by cell-free Hb. As a result, the vasoconstriction caused by acute hemolysis was attenuated and the responsiveness to systemically infused NO donors was restored. These observations confirm that the acute toxicity of intravascular hemolysis occurs secondarily to the accelerated dioxygenation reaction of plasma oxyhemoglobin with endothelium-derived NO to form bioinactive nitrate. These biochemical and physiological studies demonstrate a major role for the intact erythrocyte in NO homeostasis and provide mechanistic support for the existence of a human syndrome of hemolysis-associated NO dysregulation, which may contribute to the vasculopathy of hereditary, acquired, and iatrogenic hemolytic states.
Peter C. Minneci, Katherine J. Deans, Huang Zhi, Peter S.T. Yuen, Robert A. Star, Steven M. Banks, Alan N. Schechter, Charles Natanson, Mark T. Gladwin, Steven B. Solomon
We tested the hypothesis that induction of neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) impairs vascular smooth muscle contractility after hypoxia. nNOS protein was increased in aorta, mesenteric arterioles, pulmonary arteries, brain, and diaphragm from rats exposed to 8% O2 for 48 hours and in human aortic SMCs after hypoxic incubation (1% O2). Ca2+-dependent NO synthase activity was increased in endothelium-denuded aortic segments from hypoxia-exposed rats. NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester enhanced the contractile responses of endothelium-denuded aortic rings and mesenteric arterioles from hypoxia-exposed but not normoxic rats (P < 0.05). The hypoxia-inducible mRNA transcript expressed by human cells was found to contain a novel 5′-untranslated region, consistent with activation of transcription in the genomic region contiguous with exon 2. Translational efficiency of this transcript is markedly increased compared with previously described human nNOS mRNAs. Transgenic mice possessing a lacZ reporter construct under control of these genomic sequences demonstrated expression of the construct after exposure to hypoxia (8% O2, 48 hours) in the aorta, mesenteric arterioles, renal papilla, and brain. These results reveal a novel human nNOS promoter that confers the ability to rapidly upregulate nNOS expression in response to hypoxia with a functionally significant effect on vascular smooth muscle contraction.
Michael E. Ward, Mourad Toporsian, Jeremy A. Scott, Hwee Teoh, Vasanthi Govindaraju, Adrian Quan, Avraham D. Wener, Guilin Wang, Siân C. Bevan, Derek C. Newton, Philip A. Marsden
Progression of pulmonary hypertension is associated with increased proliferation and migration of pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells. PDGF is a potent mitogen and involved in this process. We now report that the PDGF receptor antagonist STI571 (imatinib) reversed advanced pulmonary vascular disease in 2 animal models of pulmonary hypertension. In rats with monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension, therapy with daily administration of STI571 was started 28 days after induction of the disease. A 2-week treatment resulted in 100% survival, compared with only 50% in sham-treated rats. The changes in RV pressure, measured continuously by telemetry, and right heart hypertrophy were reversed to near-normal levels. STI571 prevented phosphorylation of the PDGF receptor and suppressed activation of downstream signaling pathways. Similar results were obtained in chronically hypoxic mice, which were treated with STI571 after full establishment of pulmonary hypertension. Moreover, expression of the PDGF receptor was found to be significantly increased in lung tissue from pulmonary arterial hypertension patients compared with healthy donor lung tissue. We conclude that STI571 reverses vascular remodeling and cor pulmonale in severe experimental pulmonary hypertension regardless of the initiating stimulus. This regimen offers a unique novel approach for antiremodeling therapy in progressed pulmonary hypertension.
Ralph Theo Schermuly, Eva Dony, Hossein Ardeschir Ghofrani, Soni Pullamsetti, Rajkumar Savai, Markus Roth, Akylbek Sydykov, Ying Ju Lai, Norbert Weissmann, Werner Seeger, Friedrich Grimminger
Raj Kishore, Gangjian Qin, Corinne Luedemann, Evelyn Bord, Allison Hanley, Marcy Silver, Mary Gavin, Young-sup Yoon, David Goukassain, Douglas W. Losordo
Ang II is a central mediator of vascular inflammation and remodeling. The transcription factor Ets-1 is rapidly induced in vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells of the mouse thoracic aorta in response to systemic Ang II infusion. Arterial wall thickening, perivascular fibrosis, and cardiac hypertrophy are significantly diminished in Ets1–/– mice compared with control mice in response to Ang II. The induction of 2 known targets of Ets-1, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21CIP and plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 (PAI-1), by Ang II is markedly blunted in the aorta of Ets1–/– mice compared with wild-type controls. Expression of p21CIP in VSMCs leads to cellular hypertrophy, whereas expression of p21CIP in endothelial cells is associated with cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and endothelial dysfunction. PAI-1 promotes the development of perivascular fibrosis. We have identified monocyte chemoattractant protein–1 (MCP-1) as a novel target for Ets-1. Expression of MCP-1 is similarly reduced in Ets1–/– mice compared with control mice in response to Ang II, which results in significantly diminished recruitment of T cells and macrophages to the vessel wall. In summary, our results support a critical role for Ets-1 as a transcriptional mediator of vascular inflammation and remodeling in response to Ang II.
Yumei Zhan, Courtney Brown, Elizabeth Maynard, Aleksandra Anshelevich, Weihua Ni, I-Cheng Ho, Peter Oettgen
Akt, or protein kinase B, is a multifunctional serine-threonine protein kinase implicated in a diverse range of cellular functions including cell metabolism, survival, migration, and gene expression. However, the in vivo roles and effectors of individual Akt isoforms in signaling are not explicitly clear. Here we show that the genetic loss of Akt1, but not Akt2, in mice results in defective ischemia and VEGF-induced angiogenesis as well as severe peripheral vascular disease. Akt1 knockout (Akt1–/–) mice also have reduced endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilization in response to ischemia, and reintroduction of WT EPCs, but not EPCs isolated from Akt1–/– mice, into WT mice improves limb blood flow after ischemia. Mechanistically, the loss of Akt1 reduces the basal phosphorylation of several Akt substrates, the migration of fibroblasts and ECs, and NO release. Reconstitution of Akt1–/– ECs with Akt1 rescues the defects in substrate phosphorylation, cell migration, and NO release. Thus, the Akt1 isoform exerts an essential role in blood flow control, cellular migration, and NO synthesis during postnatal angiogenesis.
Eric Ackah, Jun Yu, Stefan Zoellner, Yasuko Iwakiri, Carsten Skurk, Rei Shibata, Noriyuki Ouchi, Rachael M. Easton, Gennaro Galasso, Morris J. Birnbaum, Kenneth Walsh, William C. Sessa
TNF-α modulates EC proliferation and thereby plays a central role in new blood vessel formation in physiologic and pathologic circumstances. TNF-α is known to downregulate cyclin A, a key cell cycle regulatory protein, but little else is known about how TNF-α modulates EC cell cycle and angiogenesis. Using primary ECs, we show that ezrin, previously considered to act primarily as a cytoskeletal protein and in cytoplasmic signaling, is a TNF-α–induced transcriptional repressor. TNF-α exposure leads to Rho kinase–mediated phosphorylation of ezrin, which translocates to the nucleus and binds to cell cycle homology region repressor elements within the cyclin A promoter. Overexpression of dominant-negative ezrin blocks TNF-α–induced modulation of ezrin function and rescues cyclin A expression and EC proliferation. In vivo, blockade of ezrin leads to enhanced transplanted EC proliferation and angiogenesis in a mouse hind limb ischemia model. These observations suggest that TNF-α regulates angiogenesis via Rho kinase induction of a transcriptional repressor function of the cytoskeletal protein ezrin and that ezrin may represent a suitable therapeutic target for processes dependent on EC proliferation.
Raj Kishore, Gangjian Qin, Corinne Luedemann, Evelyn Bord, Allison Hanley, Marcy Silver, Mary Gavin, David Goukassain, Douglas W. Losordo
Angiogenesis, or new blood vessel formation, is critical for the growth and spread of tumors. Multiple phases of this process, namely, migration, proliferation, morphogenesis, and vascular stabilization, are needed for optimal tumor growth beyond a diffusion-limited size. The sphingosine 1–phosphate (S1P) receptor-1 (S1P1) is required for stabilization of nascent blood vessels during embryonic development. Here we show that S1P1 expression is strongly induced in tumor vessels. We developed a multiplex RNA interference technique to downregulate S1P1 in mice. The small interfering RNA (siRNA) for S1P1 specifically silenced the cognate transcript in endothelial cells and inhibited endothelial cell migration in vitro and the growth of neovessels into subcutaneous implants of Matrigel in vivo. Local injection of S1P1 siRNA, but not a negative control siRNA, into established tumors inhibited the expression of S1P1 polypeptide on neovessels while concomitantly suppressing vascular stabilization and angiogenesis, which resulted in dramatic suppression of tumor growth in vivo. These data suggest that S1P1 is a critical component of the tumor angiogenic response and argue for the utility of siRNA technology in antiangiogenic therapeutics.
Sung-Suk Chae, Ji-Hye Paik, Henry Furneaux, Timothy Hla