We tested the hypotheses that TSP-1 participates in the initiation of remodeling of small muscular arteries in response to altered blood flow and that the N-terminal domain of TSP-1 (hepI) can reverse the pathological inward remodeling of resistance arteries from SHR.

We measured (1) changes in gene/protein expression in MA of 6 week old WKY and SHR exposed to either increased (+ 100 %) or reduced blood flow (- 90 %) for 24-40 hours and (2) structural changes in MA of 12 week old SHR exposed for 3 days to hepI in organ culture.

In both HF and LF of WKY, mRNA expression of eNOS, sGCα1 and PKG1β were significantly reduced (p < 0.05), whereas mRNA of TSP1 was markedly increased (p < 0.05). In MA of young SHR, similar results were obtained except that eNOS mRNA was not reduced in LF. Expression of TSP1 protein was significantly increased in LF of young WKY and SHR (p < 0.05). Exposure of MA of 12 week old SHR to hepI (1 µmol/L) resulted in a rapid lumen diameter increase (+ 12 ± 2% after 3 days) without alteration in vascular reactivity, distensibility, media surface area or cell number.

These are the first observations of reduced gene expression of eNOS/sGC/PKG and increased expression of TSP1 at the initiation of arterial remodeling in young WKY and SHR, irrespective of its outward or inward outcome. Furthermore, a fragment of TSP-1 rapidly and directly reversed pathological inward arterial remodeling of SHR in vitro.

Keywords: Arterial remodeling, eNOS, experimental hypertension, gene-expression, guanylyl cyclase, protein kinase G, resistance arteries, thrombospondin-1..
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