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Circulation. 2004 Dec 14;110(24):3708-14. Epub 2004 Nov 29.

Thrombin stimulates human endothelial arginase enzymatic activity via RhoA/ROCK pathway: implications for atherosclerotic endothelial dysfunction.

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  • 1Vascular Biology, Department of Medicine, Division of Physiology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Arginase competes with endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) for the substrate l-arginine and decreases NO production. This study investigated regulatory mechanisms of arginase activity in endothelial cells and its role in atherosclerosis.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

In human endothelial cells isolated from umbilical veins, thrombin concentration- and time-dependently stimulated arginase enzymatic activity, reaching a 1.9-fold increase (P<0.001) at 1 U/mL for 24 hours. The effect of thrombin was prevented by C3 exoenzyme or the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor fluvastatin, which inhibit RhoA, or by the ROCK inhibitors Y-27632 and HA-1077. Adenoviral expression of constitutively active RhoA or ROCK mutants enhanced arginase activity (approximately 3-fold, P<0.001), and the effect of active RhoA mutant was inhibited by the ROCK inhibitors. Neither thrombin nor the active RhoA/ROCK mutants affected arginase II protein level, the only isozyme detectable in the cells. Moreover, a significantly higher arginase II activity (1.5-fold, not the protein level) and RhoA protein level (4-fold) were observed in atherosclerotic aortas of apoE-/- compared with wild-type mice. Interestingly, l-arginine (1 mmol/L), despite a significantly higher eNOS expression in aortas of apoE-/- mice, evoked a more pronounced contraction, which was reverted to a greater vasodilation by the arginase inhibitor l-norvaline (20 mmol/L) compared with the wild-type animals (n=5, P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Thrombin enhances arginase activity via RhoA/ROCK in human endothelial cells. Higher arginase enzymatic activity is involved in atherosclerotic endothelial dysfunction in apoE-/- mice. Targeting vascular arginase may represent a novel therapeutic possibility for atherosclerosis.

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