Action of dihydropyridine calcium antagonists on early growth response gene expression and cell growth in vascular smooth muscle cells

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Evidence suggests that calcium antagonists may suppress vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) growth and proliferation, which may be a crucial step in the pathogenesis of hypertension and atherosclerosis.


The effects of the dihydropyridine calcium antagonists nifedipine, nitrendipine, nisoldipine, nimodipine and isradipine on cell growth induced by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-AB and angiotensin II (Ang II), and expression of the transcription factors c-fos and early-growth response gene 1 (egr-1) were investigated.


Proliferation of VSMC in culture was measured by [3H]-thymidine incorporation into cell DNA and by cell count. Expression of c-fos and egr-1 messenger RNA (mRNA) was determined by the Northern blot technique.


All of the calcium antagonists blunted the PDGF-induced rise in VSMC DNA synthesis. The inhibitory potency of isradipine on PDGF-stimulated DNA synthesis was approximately 10-fold that of the other calcium antagonists used, isradipine having a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of (4.2 ± 0.16) x 10-7 mol/l. The calcium antagonists investigated also inhibited Ang II-induced DNA synthesis. Isradipine (10-6 mol/l) completely abolished the PDGF-induced cell proliferation. Both PDGF (50 ng/ml) and Ang II (10-7 mol/l) induced c-fos and egr-1 mRNA expression, having maximum effect after 30 min. In the case of c-fos, pre-incubation with 5 x 10-6 mol/l isradipine led to a decrease in both Ang II- and PDGF-induced expression of this immediate-early gene. The expression of egr-1 was not affected by pre-incubation with 5 x 10-6 mol/l isradipine.


All calcium antagonists investigated in the present study inhibited cell growth. Isradipine was more potent in blocking growth factor-induced cell growth than the other calcium antagonists studied. The inhibitory effect of the dihydropyridine calcium antagonists appears to be dependent on the expression of c-fos.

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