Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAP kinases), including extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38, play a central role in cellular responses by various stress stimuli such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, migration, or gene expression. Furthermore, activator protein-1 (AP-1), a transcription factor which can be activated by MAP kinases, also is involved in a variety of celllar responses, as well as MAP kinases. MAP kinases and AP-1 are significantly activated in vascular tissues by hypertension, angiotensin II, or balloon injury. We have made dominant negative mutants of MAP kinases or c-Jun, to specifically inhibit in vivo activation of MAP kinases or AP-1. Vascular gene transfer of each dominant negative mutant of MAP kinases or c-Jun prevents intimal hyperplasia after balloon injury, which is associated with the inhibition of smooth muscle cell proliferation in the intima and the media and probably also associated with inhibition of smooth muscle cell migration. However, in vitro findings on cultured vascular smooth muscle cells suggest that the molecular mechanism underlying inhibition of intimal hyperplasia may be different among each dominant negative mutant of MAP kinases and c-Jun. MAP kinases and c-Jun seem to be the promising therapeutic target for vascular remodeling.
The Japanese Pharmacological Society 2003