Neutrophil Gelatinase–Associated Lipocalin, a Novel Mineralocorticoid Biotarget, Mediates Vascular Profibrotic Effects of Mineralocorticoids
Activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor has been shown to be deleterious in cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). We have recently shown that lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), or neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin (NGAL), is a primary target of aldosterone/mineralocorticoid receptor in the cardiovascular system. Lcn2 is a circulating protein, which binds matrix metalloproteinase 9 and modulates its stability. We hypothesized that Lcn2 could be a mediator of aldosterone/mineralocorticoid receptor profibrotic effects in the cardiovascular system. Correlations between aldosterone and profibrotic markers, such as procollagen type I N-terminal peptide, were investigated in healthy subjects and subjects with abdominal obesity. The implication of Lcn2 in the mineralocorticoid pathway was studied using Lcn2 knockout mice subjected to a nephrectomy/aldosterone/salt (NAS) challenge for 4 weeks. In human subjects, NGAL/matrix metalloproteinase 9 was positively correlated with plasma aldosterone and fibrosis biomarkers. In mice, loss of Lcn2 prevented the NAS-induced increase of plasma procollagen type I N-terminal peptide, as well as the increase of collagen fibers deposition and collagen I expression in the coronary vessels and the aorta. The lack of Lcn2 also blunted the NAS-induced increase in systolic blood pressure. Ex vivo, treatment of human fibroblasts with recombinant Lcn2 induced the expression of collagen I and the profibrotic galectin-3 and cardiotrophin-1 molecules. Our results showed that Lcn2 plays a key role in aldosterone/mineralocorticoid receptor–mediated vascular fibrosis. The clinical data indicate that this may translate in human patients. Lcn2 is, therefore, a new biotarget in cardiovascular fibrosis induced by mineralocorticoid activation.
- Received March 4, 2015.
- Revision received March 12, 2015.
- Accepted March 18, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.