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Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Mar 16;9(1):18. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-18.

Impaired myogenic tone in mesenteric arteries from overweight rats.

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  • 1School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA.



Rats fed high fat (HFD) or high sucrose (HSD) diets develop increased adiposity as well as impaired vasodilatory responsiveness stemming from oxidative stress. Moreover, HFD rats become hypertensive compared to either control (Chow) or HSD fed rats, suggesting elevated vascular tone. We hypothesized that rats with increased adiposity and oxidative stress demonstrate augmented pressure-induced vasoconstriction (i.e. myogenic tone) that could account for the hypertensive state.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed Chow, HFD or HSD for 6 weeks. The effects of oxidative stress and endogenous nitric oxide on myogenic responses were examined in small mesenteric arteries by exposing the arteries to incremental intraluminal pressure steps in the presence of antioxidants or an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, LNNA (100 μM).


Contrary to the hypothesis, rats fed either HSD or HFD had significantly impaired myogenic responses despite similar vascular morphology and passive diameter responses to increasing pressures. Vascular smooth muscle (VSM) calcium levels were normal in HFD arteries suggesting that diminished calcium sensitivity was responsible for the impaired myogenic response. In contrast, VSM calcium levels were reduced in HSD arteries but were increased with pre-exposure of arteries to the antioxidants tiron (10 mM) and catalase (1200 U/mL), also resulting in enhanced myogenic tone. These findings show that oxidative stress impairs myogenic tone in arteries from HSD rats by decreasing VSM calcium. Similarly, VSM calcium responses were increased in arteries from HFD rats following treatment with tiron and catalase, but this did not result in improved myogenic tone. Nitric oxide is involved in the impaired myogenic response in HFD, but not HSD, rats since inhibition with LNNA resulted in maximal myogenic responses at lower intraluminal pressures and VSM calcium levels, further implicating reduced calcium sensitivity in the impaired response.


The impaired myogenic responses observed in isolated arteries from HSD and HFD rats are attributed to changes in VSM calcium signaling.

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