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J Hypertens. 2002 Feb;20(2):273-80.

Decreased arteriolar density in endothelial nitric oxide synthase knockout mice is due to hypertension, not to the constitutive defect in endothelial nitric oxide synthase enzyme.

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1
INSERM Unit 541, Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Hypertension in endothelial nitric oxide synthase knockout (eNOS-/-) mice is believed to be partly due to altered vasodilatation. However, nitric oxide (NO) is also known to play an important part in angiogenesis.

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate whether capillary and arteriolar density were impaired in eNOS-/- mice, as this could account for increased vascular resistance and hypertension.

METHODS:

Using immunohistochemistry with mouse monoclonal smooth muscle alpha-actin antibody to detect arterioles and rabbit polyclonal fibronectin antibody to detect capillaries, we quantified arteriolar and capillary density in the left ventricle and in the gracilis muscle from eNOS-/- mice compared with those in C57BL6J littermates (n = 6-8) in 8- and in 12-week-old mice. In a second set of experiments, we treated 8-week-old normotensive eNOS-/- mice with the antihypertensive vasodilator, hydralazine, for 1 month.

RESULTS:

Eight-week-old eNOS-/- mice were normotensive and presented similar arteriolar and capillary densities in cardiac and skeletal muscles compared with those in eNOS+/+ mice. Twelve-week-old eNOS/- mice were hypertensive (mean arterial pressure 118 +/- 21 mmHg compared with 64 +/- 2 mmHg; P < 0.05). Capillary densities were similar in eNOS-/- mice and eNOS+/+ mice in the heart (4154 +/- 123 and 4051 +/- 247/mm2, respectively) and in skeletal muscle (961 +/- 40 and 1025 +/- 41/mm2, respectively). Arteriolar densities were 15% lower in skeletal muscle and in the heart in eNOS-/- mice than in the eNOS+/+ control group (P < 0.05). Hydralazine prevented hypertension and arteriolar rarefaction in eNOS-/- mice, whereas capillary density was unaffected by treatment with the vasodilator.

CONCLUSION:

In young non-hypertensive eNOS-/- mice, the lack of eNOS did not affect microvascular densities in either of the muscles studied. In adult hypertensive eNOS-/- mice, we observed a lower arteriolar density, but a similar capillary density compared with controls. Hydralazine prevented hypertension and arteriolar rarefaction in adult mice, suggesting a non-NO-dependent pathway. Capillary density was not affected by hydralazine.

PMID:
11821712
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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