Endothelial dysfunction plays an important role in the early development of atherosclerosis and vascular complications in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Increased expression and activity of arginase, metabolizing the nitric oxide substrate L-arginine, may result in reduced production of nitric oxide and thereby endothelial dysfunction. We hypothesized that inhibition of arginase activity improves endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus.Methods and Results—
Three groups of subjects were included: 16 patients with CAD, 16 patients with CAD and type 2 diabetes mellitus (CAD+Diabetes), and 16 age-matched healthy control subjects. Forearm endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilatation were assessed with venous occlusion plethysmography before and during intra-arterial infusion of the arginase inhibitor Nω-hydroxy-nor-L-arginine (nor-NOHA; 0.1 mg/min). Nor-NOHA was also coinfused with the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor (NG-monomethyl L-arginine). The expression of arginase was determined in the internal mammary artery of patients undergoing bypass surgery. Nor-NOHA markedly increased endothelium-dependent vasodilatation (up to 2-fold) in patients with CAD+Diabetes and CAD (P<0.001) but not in the control group. NG-monomethyl L-arginine completely inhibited the increase in endothelium-dependent vasodilatation induced by nor-NOHA. Endothelium-independent vasodilatation was slightly improved by nor-NOHA in the CAD+Diabetes group. Arginase I was expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells, and arginase II was expressed in endothelial cells of patients with and without diabetes mellitus.Conclusions—
Arginase inhibition markedly improves endothelial function in patients with CAD and type 2 diabetes mellitus suggesting that increased arginase activity is a key factor in the development of endothelial dysfunction.