Nitric oxide (NO) has multiple important actions that contribute to the maintenance of vascular homeostasis. NO is synthesized by three different isoforms of NO synthase (NOS), all of which have been reported to be expressed in human atherosclerotic vascular lesions. Although the regulatory roles of endothelial NOS (eNOS) and inducible NOS (iNOS) on the development of atherosclerosis have been described, little is known about the role of neuronal NOS (nNOS). Recent studies have demonstrated that nNOS also exerts important vasculoprotective effects in vivo. In a carotid artery ligation model, nNOS-knockout mice exhibited accelerated neointimal formation and constrictive vascular remodeling caused by blood flow disruption. In a rat balloon injury model, the selective inhibition of nNOS activity potently enhanced vasoconstrictor responses to a variety of calcium-mobilizing stimuli, and exacerbated neointimal formation. Moreover, in apolipoprotein E-knockout mice, deficiency of nNOS induced progression of aortic vascular lesion formation. In these models, nNOS was up-regulated in vascular lesions, and was predominantly expressed in the neointima and medial smooth muscle cells. These results provide the first direct evidence that nNOS plays important roles in suppressing arteriosclerotic vascular lesion formation. Thus, nNOS could be regarded as a novel anti-atherogenic factor.
Plasma oxygen permeability measures how easily oxygen dissolves in and diffuses through blood plasma. There has long been evidence that artery wall hypoxia plays a role in atherogenesis. This paper reviews the influence that plasma oxygen permeability has on artery wall oxygenation and presents experimental evidence for a relationship between plasma oxygen permeability and clinically significant obstructive coronary artery disease. Thirty-eight inpatients referred for diagnostic cardiac catheterization were scored for active coronary artery disease, and their plasma oxygen permeabilities were measured. There was a statistically significant (p = 0.04) correlation between active coronary artery disease and plasma oxygen permeability. There were also statistically significant differences in mean plasma oxygen permeability both between patients who did and did not have actively progressing coronary artery disease (p = 0.01) and between patients who did and did not have clinically significant obstructive coronary artery disease, whether it was actively progressing or not (p = 0.02). These findings suggest that a decline in plasma oxygen permeability may be one of the many factors associated with progression of atherosclerosis and that substances which increase oxygen permeability might offer a useful adjunct to current therapeutic measures.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the lipid-lowering and anti-oxidative effects of fluvastatin, a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitor, in type 2 diabetic patients. Six patients (3 men and 3 women, mean age = 56.2) took 20 mg of fluvastatin once daily (at night) for 12 weeks. Several markers of oxidative stress were then measured in these patients including plasma cholesterol oxidation products, i.e. oxysterols, and the levels of circulating adhesion molecules. Plasma total cholesterol levels were reduced by 12.3% in these individuals after 4 weeks of treatment, with levels remaining below 220 mg/dl for the entire treatment period. LDL levels were significantly reduced at 4 (18.1%) and 12 weeks (16.1%), and triglyceride levels were significantly reduced after 8 (22.5%) and 12 (37.7%) weeks of treatment. HDL-C levels increased from 50.7 ± 15.4 prior to treatment to 63.8 ± 24.3 mg/dl after 12 weeks of treatment, though this increase was not statistically significant. Lipid hydroperoxide, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARS), and oxysterol levels were also reduced, suggesting that fluvastatin also had anti-oxidative effects. Finally, VCAM-1 levels were similarly reduced by fluvastatin treatment. We conclude that fluvastatin safely improves the plasma lipid profile in type 2 diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia. We speculate that this drug might be doubly effective in reducing atherosclerosis and cardiac events in these patients as a result of its demonstrated anti-oxidative effects and its ability to reduce VCAM-1 levels.
In addition to a lipid-lowering effect, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) have an effect on the expression levels of many genes. In order to elucidate the range of this effect as comprehensively as possible, we investigated the changes in gene expression profiles brought about by atorvastatin or pitavastatin in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), cultured human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMC) and cultured human hepatocarcinoma Hep G2 cells by means of DNA microarrays. Among the 6146 genes in the array, statins affected the expression levels of genes involved in coagulation, vascular constriction and cell growth in a cell-type specific manner. In HUVEC, they induced integrin β4 and thrombomodulin profoundly, and profoundly suppressed pentraxin 3 both at 8 and 24 hours. In HCASMC, the statins induced thrombomodulin and urokinase inhibitor, and potently suppressed the cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 and cyclin B. Many genes related to the cell cycle and/or growth were also regulated in HUVEC and HCASMC by the statins. These results indicate that many aspects of the pleiotropic effect can be mediated by transcriptional control by statins. Genes newly identified by this study may be useful in statin therapy.
We investigated the effects of leptin receptor gene 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) polymorphism on clinical and metabolic parameters in 221 young Japanese men aged 21 to 28 years. The polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method was used to identify a pentanucleotide (CTTTA) insertion in 3'-UTR of the leptin receptor gene. Body mass index, blood pressure, plasma glucose, insulin, leptin, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, uric acid, apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), and cholesteryl-ester transfer protein levels were measured. There was only 1 homozygote and 38 heterozygotes for the 3'-UTR insertion allele among the 221 subjects. The insertion allele frequency was 0.090. Plasma HDL-cholesterol and apoA-I levels were significantly lower (p = 0.015 and p = 0.032 by Mann-Whitney U test, respectively) in homozygous or heterozygous carriers of the insertion allele than in subjects homozygous for the normal allele. There were no differences in other parameters measured. Furthermore, when the subjects were divided into three groups according to HDL-cholesterol level, the percentage of insertion allele-positive subjects was significantly lower in the highest HDL-cholesterol group (χ2 = 8.42, p = 0.015). These findings suggest that serum HDL-cholesterol and apoA-I levels are influenced by the leptin receptor gene 3'-UTR polymorphism in young Japanese men.
Background: We evaluated the role of IFN-γ produced by bone marrow-derived cells in atherogenesis in LDLR-/- mice using bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Methods and Results: We generated IFN-γ-deficient bone marrow transplanted LDLR-/- mice (IFN-γ-/- BMT mice), and compared them with controls (IFN-γ+/+ BMT mice). These mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride levels did not differ between these two groups. After 6 weeks of HFD feeding, the atherosclerotic lesions of IFN-γ-/- BMT mice were larger than those of IFN-γ+/+ BMT mice at the aortic sinus, aortic arch and abdominal aorta. After 12 weeks of HFD feeding, the significant differences between the two groups disappeared except for the atherosclerotic lesion in the aortic sinus. MOMA2, CD4, CD8 or α-smooth muscle actin-positive cells were detected in the atherosclerotic lesions. The cellular composition of the lesions was identical between the two groups, but the cellular density showed decreased concomitant with the increased extracellular matrix deposition in IFN-γ-/- BMT mice. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that IFN-γ produced by bone marrow-derived cells delays the progression of atherosclerosis without any effect on plasma lipids, and this suppression may be due to decreased extracellular matrix deposition.
In order to characterize the monocytic cell line THP-1 and its mature, macrophage-like form treated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), we have conducted an oligonucleotide microarray assay and compared the results with those from an assay of human monocytes and macrophages. We found that early THP-1 cells have a pattern of gene expression distinct from monocytes, and when treated with PMA, certain genes which are induced in macrophages, such as apolipoprotein-E, matrix metalloproteinase 9 and α2 macroglobulin are also induced in the PMA-treated THP-1 cells (THP1PMA cells). However, these were some genes which are conversely regulated among macrophages and THP1PMA cells such as interleukin-1-β and the overall correlation coefficient was not very high. It is shown that, although certain morphological and other characteristics of PMA-differentiated THP-1 cells are similar to macrophages, from a transcriptomic view, the two are different. This suggests a need for careful recognition of and allowance for this difference when interpreting the results of experiments done with THP-1 cells in which it is otherwise assumed they are representative of the macrophage.