Renal and Mesenteric Arterial Tone in Rats with Human Renin and Angiotensinogen Genes
The vascular endothelium plays a key role in the control of vasomotor tone, local hemostasis, and vascular wall proliferation processes. We characterized vascular functions in double-transgenic rats (dTGR) harboring human renin and human angiotensinogen. In dTGR, the endothelium-mediated relaxations of noradrenaline (NA)-precontracted renal (large conduit vessel) and mesenteric arterial (smaller conduit vessel) rings to acetylcholine (ACh) were markedly impaired, compared to normotensive Sprague Dawley rats (p<0.05). In contrast, the endothelium-independent relaxation to sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were similar in both strains. Preincubation of the arterial rings with the NOS inhibitor L-NAME and the COX inhibitor diclofenac inhibited relaxations to ACh almost completely in dTGR, suggesting that endothelial dysfunction could be attributed, at least in part, to reduced relaxation via arterial K+ channels. Contractions to Ang II, ET-1, and NA were decreased in dTGR suggesting agonist-dependent down-regulation of the receptors. The vascular media-to-lumen ratio was similar in both strains, indicating that vascular functions were characterized during an early stage of hypertension. 24-hour urinary NOx excretion, a marker of total body NO generation, was markedly decreased in dTGR (p<0.05). AT1 receptor blockade by valsartan (30 mg/kg p.o. for 3 weeks) normalized blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, and the contractile responses to ET-1 and NA. We also quantified AT1, AT2, neutral endopeptidase (NEP), and ACE expressions in the kidney by autoradiography. In dTGR, AT1, AT2 and NEP expressions were decreased, whereas ACE expression was unchanged. The activity of renal xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR), a hypoxia-inducible enzyme capable of generating reactive oxygen species, was increased by 50 % in dTGR, and normalized by valsartan. Our findings indicate that hypertension in dTGR is associated with endothelial dysfunction, down-regulation of Ang II, ET-1, and NA receptors, as well as increased renal XOR activity. AT1 receptor blockade effectively normalized blood pressure, alterations in arterial function, and renal XOR activity.