Endothelial Cell Tetrahydrobiopterin Modulates Sensitivity to Ang (Angiotensin) II–Induced Vascular Remodeling, Blood Pressure, and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

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GTPCH (GTP cyclohydrolase 1, encoded by Gch1) is required for the synthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin; a critical regulator of endothelial NO synthase function. We have previously shown that mice with selective loss of Gch1 in endothelial cells have mild vascular dysfunction, but the consequences of endothelial cell tetrahydrobiopterin deficiency in vascular disease pathogenesis are unknown. We investigated the pathological consequence of Ang (angiotensin) II infusion in endothelial cell Gch1 deficient (Gch1fl/fl Tie2cre) mice. Ang II (0.4 mg/kg per day, delivered by osmotic minipump) caused a significant decrease in circulating tetrahydrobiopterin levels in Gch1fl/fl Tie2cre mice and a significant increase in the Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester inhabitable production of H2O2 in the aorta. Chronic treatment with this subpressor dose of Ang II resulted in a significant increase in blood pressure only in Gch1fl/fl Tie2cre mice. This finding was mirrored with acute administration of Ang II, where increased sensitivity to Ang II was observed at both pressor and subpressor doses. Chronic Ang II infusion in Gch1fl/fl Tie2ce mice resulted in vascular dysfunction in resistance mesenteric arteries with an enhanced constrictor and decreased dilator response and medial hypertrophy. Altered vascular remodeling was also observed in the aorta with an increase in the incidence of abdominal aortic aneurysm formation in Gch1fl/fl Tie2ce mice. These findings indicate a specific requirement for endothelial cell tetrahydrobiopterin in modulating the hemodynamic and structural changes induced by Ang II, through modulation of blood pressure, structural changes in resistance vessels, and aneurysm formation in the aorta.

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