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Physiol Genomics. 2008 Feb 19;32(3):409-18. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

Gene expression changes of prostanoid synthases in endothelial cells and prostanoid receptors in vascular smooth muscle cells caused by aging and hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


The present study was designed to assess whether or not changes in genomic expression of cyclooxygenases (COX-1, COX-2), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and prostanoid synthases in the endothelium and of prostanoid receptors in vascular smooth muscle contribute to the occurrence of endothelium-dependent contractions during aging and hypertension. Gene expression was quantified by real-time PCR using isolated endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells (SMC) from the aorta of Wistar-Kyoto and spontaneously hypertensive rats. Genes for all known prostanoid synthases and receptors were present in endothelial cells and SMC, respectively. Aging caused overexpression of eNOS, COX-1, COX-2, thromboxane synthase, hematopoietic-type prostaglandin D synthase, membrane prostaglandin E synthase-2, and prostaglandin F synthase in endothelial cells and COX-1 and prostaglandin E(2) (EP)(4) receptors in SMC. Hypertension augmented the expression of COX-1, prostacyclin synthase, thromboxane synthase, and hematopoietic-type prostaglandin D synthase in endothelial cells and prostaglandin D(2) (DP), EP(3), and EP(4) receptors in SMC. The increase in genomic expression of endothelial COX-1 explains why in aging and hypertension the endothelium has greater propensity to release cyclooxygenase-derived vasoconstrictive prostanoids. The expression of prostacyclin synthase was by far the most abundant, explaining why the majority of the COX-1-derived endoperoxides are transformed into prostacyclin, substantiating the role of prostacyclin as an endothelium-derived contracting factor. The expression of thromboxane synthase was increased in the cells of aging or hypertensive rats, explaining why the prostanoid can contribute to endothelium-dependent contractions. It is uncertain whether the gene modifications caused by aging and hypertension directly contribute to endothelium-dependent contractions or rather to vascular aging and the vascular complications of the hypertensive process.

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