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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2004 Aug;37(2):537-46.

Inflammatory stimuli upregulate Rho-kinase in human coronary vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the 21st Century COE Program on Lifestyle-Related Diseases, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 3-1-1 Maldashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Recent studies have demonstrated that upregulated Rho-kinase plays an important role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis and vasospasm in both animals and humans. However, little is known about the molecular mechanism(s) involved in the Rho-kinase upregulation. Since inflammatory mechanisms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis and vasospasm, we examined whether inflammatory stimuli upregulate Rho-kinase in vitro and in vivo. In cultured human coronary vascular smooth muscle cells (hcVSMC), inflammatory stimuli, such as angiotensin II and interleukin-1beta, increased Rho-kinase expression (at both mRNA and protein levels) and function (as evaluated by the extent of the phosphorylation of the ERM (the ezrin/radixin/moesin) family, substrates of Rho-kinase) in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. The expression of Rho-kinase was inhibited by blockades of protein kinase C (PKC) (by either GF109253 or prolonged treatment with phorbol myristate acetate for 24 h) and an adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of dominant-active Ikappa-B, suggesting an involvement of PKC and NF-kappaB in the intracellular signal transduction pathway for the Rho-kinase expression. Furthermore, coronary vascular lesion formation (characterized by medial thickening and perivascular fibrosis) induced by a long-term administration of angiotensin II was markedly suppressed in NF-kappaB(-/-) mice with reduced expression and activity of Rho-kinase in vivo. These results indicate that the expression and function of Rho-kinase are upregulated by inflammatory stimuli (e.g. angiotensin II and IL-1beta) in hcVSMC with an involvement of PKC and NF-kappaB both in vitro and in vivo.

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