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      Gene Expression and Morphological Changes in Surgically Injured Carotids of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats


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          The expression profiles of genes involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and programmed death were investigated in carotids of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) treated with a model of surgical injury that mimics events occurring during arterial grafts, endarterectomy and organ transplantation. The mRNA level of the c-myc, angiotensin II receptor 1 (AT1), Rb/p105, Rb2/p130, Bcl-2 and Bax-α genes was assessed by a semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique at different times up to 48 h after injury, while the morphological changes were evaluated 30 days after injury. The proliferation marker c-myc increases almost immediately, peaks after 4 h and returns to basal levels after 24 h; the AT1 receptor mRNA reaches its maximal level 48 h after injury. The level of cell cycle exit markers Rb/p105 and Rb2/p130 gradually decreases after injury. The apoptosis marker Bcl-2/Bax-α ratio shows a significant reduction only 4 h after injury, resuming the initial value after 24 and 48 h. Morphological analysis reveals that surgical injury in SHR induces adventitial and medial constrictive remodeling changes rather than intima proliferation as in balloon angioplasty. Both molecular and histological data show substantial differences with respect to normotensive rats.

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          Time course of apoptosis in small resistance arteries of spontaneously hypertensive rats.

          The time course of programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the vasculature of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) is still unclear. Moreover, no data are presently available about the possible inter-relationships between apoptosis and vascular remodelling. The aim of this study was to investigate the mesenteric small resistance arteries and large arteries (aortas) of SHRs and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats at different ages, before and after the development of overt hypertension. Twenty-four SHRs (4, 8 or 12 weeks old) and 24 age-matched WKY rats were included in the study. Blood pressure was measured non-invasively. Rats were killed by decapitation and segments of aortas and small mesenteric arteries were dissected free from the surrounding tissue. Mesenteric arteries were mounted on a micromyograph and structural characteristics were measured (media thickness, media:lumen ratio, etc.). Apoptotic cells in the tunica media of large and small vessels were then stained using modified TdT-mediated dUTP Nick-End Labeling (TUNEL). At 4 weeks of age no difference in the blood pressure and percentage of apoptosis in mesenteric arteries between SHRs and WKY rats was detected; however, the media:lumen ratio of mesenteric small resistance arteries was significantly greater in SHRs. At 8 and 12 weeks of age systolic blood pressure, media:lumen ratio and apoptosis rate in mesenteric small arteries was significantly higher in SHRs. The rate of apoptosis in the aortas was similar in the two strains at all three ages. An increased prevalence of apoptosis was observed in mesenteric small arteries of 8- and 12-week-old SHRs. It is possible that apoptosis may exert a role in small resistance artery remodelling during the development and establishment of hypertension.
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            The binding properties and biological activities of Bcl-2 and Bax in cells exposed to apoptotic stimuli.

            The oncogene product Bcl-2 protects cells from apoptosis whereas its homolog Bax functions to kill cells. Several binding partners of Bcl-2 and Bax have been isolated, but none of them has yet provided clues as to exactly how Bcl-2 and Bax work. According to one view, Bcl-2 and Bax interact with survival and death effector molecules, respectively, and neutralize each other through heterodimerization. Alternatively, Bcl-2 requires Bax for death protection, and additional proteins bind to the heterodimer to regulate its activity. Here we used a co-immunoprecipitation strategy to distinguish between these two possibilities. We show that the Bcl-2-Bax heterodimer is maintained, and no other protein associates stably in detectable amounts with Bcl-2, Bax, or the heterodimer in anti-Bcl-2 and anti-Bax immunoprecipitates from normal cells and cells exposed to apoptotic stimuli. Analysis of cells expressing various levels of Bcl-2 and Bax, however, revealed that the degree of protection against apoptosis does not correlate with the number of Bcl-2-Bax heterodimers but the amount of Bcl-2 that is free of Bax. In addition, the survival activity of Bcl-2 is unaffected when Bax expression is ablated by an antisense strategy. Our findings suggest that the Bcl-2-Bax heterodimer is a negative regulator of death protection, and that Bcl-2 requires neither Bax nor major, stable interactions with other cellular proteins to exert its survival function. We therefore propose that Bcl-2 acts as an enzyme (capturing substrates in a transient way), as a homodi- or multimer, or through the interaction with non-proteaceous targets (lipids, ions).
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                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                April 2002
                10 May 2002
                : 39
                : 2
                : 114-121
                Research Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Departments of aExperimental Medicine and bCardiothoracic Sciences, cInstitute of Pathological Anatomy and Histology, Second University of Naples, Italy
                57760 J Vasc Res 2002;39:114–121
                © 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, References: 32, Pages: 8
                Research Paper

                General medicine,Neurology,Cardiovascular Medicine,Internal medicine,Nephrology
                Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction,Histology,Cell proliferation,Remodeling,Hypertensive rats,Apoptosis


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