Aspirin suppresses cardiac fibroblast proliferation and collagen formation through downregulation of angiotensin type 1 receptor transcription

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Aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid, ASA) is a common drug used for its analgesic and antipyretic effects. Recent studies show that ASA not only blocks cyclooxygenase, but also inhibits NADPH oxidase and resultant reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, a pathway that underlies pathogenesis of several ailments, including hypertension and tissue remodeling after injury. In these disease states, angiotensin II (Ang II) activates NADPH oxidase via its type 1 receptor (AT1R) and leads to fibroblast growth and collagen synthesis. In this study, we examined if ASA would inhibit NADPH oxidase activation, upregulation of AT1R transcription, and subsequent collagen generation in mouse cardiac fibroblasts challenged with Ang II. Mouse heart fibroblasts were isolated and treated with Ang II with or without ASA. As expected, Ang II induced AT1R expression, and stimulated cardiac fibroblast growth and collagen synthesis. The AT1R blocker losartan attenuated these effects of Ang II. Similarly to losartan, ASA, and its SA moiety suppressed Ang II-mediated AT1R transcription and fibroblast proliferation as well as expression of collagens and MMPs. ASA also suppressed the expression of NADPH oxidase subunits (p22phox, p47phox, p67phox, NOX2 and NOX4) and ROS generation. ASA did not affect total NF-κB p65, but inhibited its phosphorylation and activation. These observations suggest that ASA inhibits Ang II-induced NADPH oxidase expression, NF-κB activation and AT1R transcription in cardiac fibroblasts, and fibroblast proliferation and collagen expression. The critical role of NADPH oxidase activity in stimulation of AT1R transcription became apparent in experiments where ASA also inhibited AT1R transcription in cardiac fibroblasts challenged with H2O2. Since SA had similar effect as ASA on AT1R expression, we suggest that ASA's effect is mediated by its SA moiety.

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