Atorvastatin Prevents Endothelial Dysfunction in Mesenteric Arteries From Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats: Role of Cyclooxygenase 2–Derived Contracting Prostanoids

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We investigated the effect of atorvastatin on cyclooxygenase (COX) contribution to endothelial dysfunction in spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) mesenteric resistance arteries. Atorvastatin (10 mg/kg per day, oral gavage) or its vehicle was administered for 2 weeks to male SHR or Wistar-Kyoto rats. Endothelial function of mesenteric arteries was assessed by pressurized myograph. In Wistar-Kyoto rats, relaxation to acetylcholine was inhibited by NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester and unaffected by SC-560 (COX-1 inhibitor), DuP-697 (COX-2 inhibitor), or ascorbic acid. In SHRs, the response to acetylcholine was attenuated, less sensitive to NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, unaffected by SC-560, and enhanced by DuP-697 or SQ-29548 (thromboxane-prostanoid receptor antagonist) to a similar extent. Endothelium-dependent relaxation was normalized by ascorbic acid or apocynin (NADPH oxidase inhibitor), which also restored the inhibition by NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester. In atorvastatin-treated SHRs, relaxation to acetylcholine was normalized, fully sensitive to NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, and not affected by SC-560, DuP-697, SQ 29548, or antioxidants. Dihydroethidium assay showed an increased intravascular superoxide generation in SHRs, which was abrogated by atorvastatin. RT-PCR revealed a COX-2 induction in SHR arteries, which was downregulated by atorvastatin. The release of prostacyclin and 8-isoprostane was higher from SHR than Wistar-Kyoto mesenteric vessels. COX-2 inhibition and apocynin decreased 8-isoprostane without affecting prostacyclin levels. Atorvastatin increased phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2, pAkt, peNOS1177, and inducible NO synthase levels in SHR mesenteric vessels and decreased 8-isoprostane release. In conclusion, COX-2–derived 8-isoprostane contributes to endothelial dysfunction in SHR mesenteric arteries. Atorvastatin restores NO availability by increasing phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2, pAkt, peNOS1177, and inducible NO synthase levels and by abrogating vascular NADPH oxidase–driven superoxide production, which also results in a downregulation of COX-2–dependent 8-isoprostane generation.

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