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Am J Hypertens. 2001 Nov;14(11 Pt 1):1135-41.

Aortic smooth muscle cell proliferation and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity in fructose-fed rats.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, National University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the proliferative behavior of vascular smooth muscle cells in primary culture (pC-SMC) and the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) activity in the endothelial lining of the aorta of fructose-fed rats (FFR). This is an experimental model of syndrome X, a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors including hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, and hypertension that has been suggested to be of pathophysiologic importance for the development of atherosclerosis. Male Wistar rats were used: Control (n = 12) and FFR (n = 12). After receiving fructose in drinking water (10% w/v) during 8 weeks, biochemical parameters, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and relative heart weight (RHW) were determined. The proliferative effect of 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) was examined in aortic pC-SMC by [3H]thymidine incorporation and by cell counting. Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent NOS activity was estimated in aortic endothelial lining and in heart tissue homogenates by conversion of [3H]arginine into [3H]citrulline. Fructose-fed rats showed hyperinsulinemia (P = .0263), altered glucose tolerance test (P < .001), higher SBP (P < .0001), and RHW (P = .0145), compared to control rats. These animals also showed an increase of 10% FCS-induced [3H]thymidine incorporation (P < .0001) and cell number of aortic pC-SMC (P = .0049) and decreased eNOS activity in both aortic endothelium (P = .0147) and cardiac tissue (P < .0001). These data support the hypothesis that syndrome X is associated to changes in SMC proliferation and endothelial dysfunction, which could be involved in the onset or progression of the atherogenic process.

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