Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition improves vascular endothelial dysfunction in a rat model of endotoxic shock: role of inducible nitric-oxide synthase and oxidative stress

Agostino Virdis, Rocchina Colucci, Matteo Fornai, Corrado Blandizzi, Emiliano Duranti, Stefania Pinto, Nunzia Bernardini, Cristina Segnani, Luca Antonioli, Stefano Taddei, Antonio Salvetti, Mario Del Tacca
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 2005, 312 (3): 945-53
We investigated whether cyclooxygenase (COX) isoforms (COX-1 and COX-2) and decreased NO availability contribute to endothelial dysfunction in endotoxemic rats. The involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was also evaluated. Rats were injected with Salmonella-derived lipopolysaccharide or saline. After 6 h, endothelial function of mesenteric resistance arteries was evaluated. In controls, acetylcholine (ACh)-induced relaxation was inhibited by the nitric-oxide synthase inhibitor N(G)-monomethyl-l-arginine (l-NMMA) and unaffected by 5,5-dimethyl-3-(3-fluorophenyl)-4-(4-methylsulphonyl)-phenyl-2(5H)-furanone (DFU) (COX-2 inhibitor). In lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated rats, the response to ACh was blunted compared with controls, less sensitive to l-NMMA, and enhanced by DFU. COX-2 blockade also improved the inhibitory effect of l-NMMA on cholinergic relaxation. SC-560 [5-(4-clorophenyl)-1-(4-metoxyphenyl)-3-trifluoromethylpirazole] (COX-1 inhibitor) did not modify the response to ACh in both groups. LPS-induced endothelial dysfunction was unaffected by the thromboxane A(2) (TxA(2)) receptor antagonist SQ-29548 (7-[3-[[2-[(phenylamino)carbonyl]hydrazino]methyl]-7-oxabicyclo[2.2.1] hept-2-yl]-[1S(1alpha,2alpha(Z),3alpha,4alpha)]-5-heptenoic acid). In vivo inducible nitric-oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibition by S-methylisothiourea partly attenuated LPS-induced endothelial dysfunction. The antioxidants ascorbic acid and superoxide dismutase normalized endothelium-dependent relaxation and restored the inhibitory action of l-NMMA on ACh. Responses to sodium nitroprusside were similar in both groups. In LPS-treated rats, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed a marked increase in mesenteric iNOS and COX-2 expressions, whereas endothelial nitric-oxide synthase and COX-1 were unchanged. LPS-induced COX-2 overexpression was reduced but not abrogated by S-methylisothiourea. LPS-induced COX-2 up-regulation was also documented by immunohistochemistry. In conclusion, mesenteric resistance vessels from endotoxemic rats show impaired endothelial function due to reduced NO availability, a condition that is partly ascribable to an iNOS-dependent enhanced COX-2 expression, whereas TxA(2) does not seem to be involved. Oxidative stress is the main mechanism responsible for reduced NO availability, and COX-2 might act as a source of ROS.

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