Oleic Acid and Angiotensin II Induce a Synergistic Mitogenic Response in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

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Oleic acid and angiotensin II (Ang II) are elevated and may interact to accelerate vascular disease in obese hypertensive patients. We studied the effects of oleic acid and Ang II on growth responses of rat aortic smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Oleic acid (50 [micro sign]mol/L) raised thymidine incorporation by 50% at 24 hours and cell number by 55% at 6 days (P<.05). Ang II (10-11 to 10 (-6) mol/L) did not significantly increase thymidine incorporation or VSMC number. Combining Ang II and 50 [micro sign]mol/L oleic acid doubled thymidine incorporation and VSMC number. Losartan, an angiotensin type 1 (AT1) receptor antagonist, blocked the synergistic interaction between Ang II and oleic acid, whereas the AT2 receptor antagonist PD 123319 did not. Protein kinase C inhibition and downregulation, as well as inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation by PD 98059, eliminated the rise of thymidine incorporation in response to oleic acid and the synergistic interaction with Ang II. However, the response to 10% fetal bovine serum was unaffected. An antisense oligodeoxynucleotide to ERK-1 and ERK-2 reduced ERK protein expression and activation by 83% and 75%, respectively. Antisense prevented the rise of thymidine incorporation in response to oleic acid and the synergy with Ang II. Antisense reduced but did not prevent increased thymidine incorporation in response to serum. The data indicate that oleic acid and Ang II exert a synergistic mitogenic effect in VSMCs and suggest an important role for the AT1 receptor, PKC, and ERK in this synergy. The observations raise the possibility that a synergistic mitogenic interaction between oleic acid and Ang II accelerates vascular remodeling in obese hypertensive patients. (Hypertension. 1998;31:978-985.)

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