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      Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase Stimulates Aneurysm Growth in Aged Mice


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          Background/Aims: Age-associated changes in endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression have not been definitively linked to the pathophysiology of aortic aneurysms. We examined the role of eNOS in human patients and an age-appropriate mouse model. Methods: eNOS transcripts and immunodetectable protein were assessed by quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry in human ascending thoracic aneurysms (n = 29) and referent aortae (n = 31). Carotid aneurysms were induced with CaCl<sub>2</sub> in young adult (3 months) and aged (18 months) C57BL/6 and eNOS-knockout (eNOS-KO) mice. Results: eNOS transcripts and protein were reduced in human aneurysms compared with controls, although aortic eNOS expression also decreased with patient age. Aged wild-type mice had significantly larger aneurysm diameter than young adult mice. Aged wild-type mice had reduced eNOS transcripts and protein compared with young adult mice. Aged eNOS-KO mice had smaller aneurysms compared with aged wild-type mice but similar size aneurysms compared with young eNOS-KO and young wild-type mice. Conclusion: eNOS expression is reduced in both aged human and aged mouse endothelium and eNOS expression is linked to aneurysm expansion in aged but not young adult mice. These findings support the relevance of age-associated changes in eNOS expression in clinical aneurysmal disease.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Developmental basis of vascular smooth muscle diversity.

           Mark Majesky (2007)
          The origins of vascular smooth muscle are far more diverse than previously thought. Lineage mapping studies show that the segmental organization of early vertebrate embryos leaves footprints on the adult vascular system in the form of a mosaic pattern of different smooth muscle types. Moreover, evolutionarily conserved tissue forming pathways produce vascular smooth muscle from a variety of unanticipated sources. A closer look at the diversity of smooth muscle origins in vascular development provides new perspectives about how blood vessels differ from one another and why they respond in disparate ways to common risk factors associated with vascular disease. The origins of vascular smooth muscle are far more diverse than previously thought. A closer look at the diversity of smooth muscle origins in vascular development provides new perspectives about how blood vessels differ from one another and why they respond in disparate ways to common risk factors associated with vascular disease.
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            Accelerated atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysm formation, and ischemic heart disease in apolipoprotein E/endothelial nitric oxide synthase double-knockout mice.

            To test whether deficiency in endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) affects atherosclerosis development, we compared lesion formation in apolipoprotein E (apoE)/eNOS-double knockout (DKO) and apoE-knockout (KO) control animals. After 16 weeks of "Western-type" diet, apoE/eNOS-DKO males and females showed significant increases in lesion area of 93.6% and 59.2% compared with apoE-KO mice. All apoE/eNOS-DKO animals studied developed peripheral coronary arteriosclerosis, associated with perivascular and myocardial fibrosis, whereas none of the apoE-KO mice did. Transthoracic echocardiography showed a significantly increased left ventricular wall thickness and decreased fractional shortening in DKO animals. Mean arterial pressure was increased in DKO mice and was comparable in degree to eNOS-KO animals. Male DKO animals developed atherosclerotic abdominal aneurysms and aortic dissection. eNOS deficiency increases atherosclerosis in Western-type diet-fed apoE-KO animals and introduces coronary disease and an array of cardiovascular complications, including spontaneous aortic aneurysm and dissection. This phenotype constitutes the first murine model to demonstrate distal coronary arteriosclerosis associated with evidence of myocardial ischemia, infarction, and heart failure. Hypertrophy and reduced left ventricular function cannot be explained by increased blood pressure alone, because eNOS-KO animals do not develop these complications.
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              Endogenous nitric oxide synthesis: biological functions and pathophysiology.

              Modern molecular biology has revealed vast numbers of large and complex proteins and genes that regulate body function. By contrast, discoveries over the past ten years indicate that crucial features of neuronal communication, blood vessel modulation and immune response are mediated by a remarkably simple chemical, nitric oxide (NO). Endogenous NO is generated from arginine by a family of three distinct calmodulin- dependent NO synthase (NOS) enzymes. NOS from endothelial cells (eNOS) and neurons (nNOS) are both constitutively expressed enzymes, whose activities are stimulated by increases in intracellular calcium. Immune functions for NO are mediated by a calcium-independent inducible NOS (iNOS). Expression of iNOS protein requires transcriptional activation, which is mediated by specific combinations of cytokines. All three NOS use NADPH as an electron donor and employ five enzyme cofactors to catalyze a five-electron oxidation of arginine to NO with stoichiometric formation of citrulline. The highest levels of NO throughout the body are found in neurons, where NO functions as a unique messenger molecule. In the autonomic nervous system NO functions NO functions as a major non-adrenergic non-cholinergic (NANC) neurotransmitter. This NANC pathway plays a particularly important role in producing relaxation of smooth muscle in the cerebral circulation and the gastrointestinal, urogenital and respiratory tracts. Dysregulation of NOS activity in autonomic nerves plays a major role in diverse pathophysiological conditions including migraine headache, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis and male impotence. In the brain, NO functions as a neuromodulator and appears to mediate aspects of learning and memory. Although endogenous NO was originally appreciated as a mediator of smooth muscle relaxation, NO also plays a major role in skeletal muscle. Physiologically muscle-derived NO regulates skeletal muscle contractility and exercise-induced glucose uptake. nNOS occurs at the plasma membrane of skeletal muscle which facilitates diffusion of NO to the vasculature to regulate muscle perfusion. nNOS protein occurs in the dystrophin complex in skeletal muscle and NO may therefore participate in the pathophysiology of muscular dystrophy. NO signalling in excitable tissues requires rapid and controlled delivery of NO to specific cellular targets. This tight control of NO signalling is largely regulated at the level of NO biosynthesis. Acute control of nNOS activity is mediated by allosteric enzyme regulation, by posttranslational modification and by subcellular targeting of the enzyme. nNOS protein levels are also dynamically regulated by changes in gene transcription, and this affords long-lasting changes in tissue NO levels. While NO normally functions as a physiological neuronal mediator, excess production of NO mediates brain injury. Overactivation of glutamate receptors associated with cerebral ischemia and other excitotoxic processes results in massive release of NO. As a free radical, NO is inherently reactive and mediates cellular toxicity by damaging critical metabolic enzymes and by reacting with superoxide to form an even more potent oxidant, peroxynitrite. Through these mechanisms, NO appears to play a major role in the pathophysiology of stroke, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                April 2008
                10 January 2008
                : 45
                : 3
                : 251-258
                aDepartment of Surgery and bInterdepartmental Program in Vascular Biology and Therapeutics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., cSaint Mary’s Hospital, Waterbury, Conn., and dVA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Conn., USA
                112940 J Vasc Res 2008;45:251–258
                © 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 36, Pages: 8
                Research Paper


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