Adrenomedullin and Adrenomedullin Binding Protein-1 Attenuate Vascular Endothelial Cell Apoptosis in Sepsis

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Objective:To determine whether vascular endothelial cell apoptosis occurs in the late stage of sepsis and, if so, whether administration of a potent vasodilatory peptide adrenomedullin and its newly reported specific binding protein (AM/AMBP-1) prevents sepsis-induced endothelial cell apoptosis.Summary Background Data:Polymicrobial sepsis is characterized by an early, hyperdynamic phase followed by a late, hypodynamic phase. Our recent studies have shown that administration of AM/AMBP-1 delays or even prevents the transition from the hyperdynamic phase to the hypodynamic phase of sepsis, attenuates tissue injury, and decreases sepsis-induced mortality. However, the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of AM/AMBP-1 in sepsis remain unknown.Methods:Polymicrobial sepsis was induced by cecal ligation and puncture in adult male rats. Human AMBP-1 (40 μg/kg body weight) was infused intravenously at the beginning of sepsis for 20 minutes and synthetic AM (12 μg/kg body weight) was continuously administered for the entire study period using an Alzert micro-osmotic pump, beginning 3 hours prior to the induction of sepsis. The thoracic aorta and pulmonary tissues were harvested at 20 hours after cecal ligation and puncture (ie, the late stage of sepsis). Apoptosis was determined using TUNEL assay, M30 Cytodeath immunostaining, and electromicroscopy. In addition, anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and pro-apoptotic Bax gene expression and protein levels were assessed by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively.Results:Vascular endothelial cells underwent apoptosis formation at 20 hours after cecal ligation and puncture as determined by three different methods. Moreover, partial detached endothelial cell in the aorta was observed. Bcl-2 mRNA and protein levels decreased significantly at 20 hours after the onset of sepsis while Bax was not altered. Administration of AM/AMBP-1 early after sepsis, however, significantly reduced the number of apoptotic endothelial cells. This was associated with significantly increased Bcl-2 protein levels and decreased Bax gene expression in the aortic and pulmonary tissues.Conclusion:The above results suggest that vascular endothelial cell apoptosis occurs in late sepsis and the anti-apoptotic effects of AM/AMBP-1 appear to be in part responsible for their beneficial effects observed under such conditions.

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