C1q/TNF-related proteins, a family of novel adipokines, induce vascular relaxation through the adiponectin receptor-1/AMPK/eNOS/nitric oxide signaling pathway

Qijun Zheng, Yuexing Yuan, Wei Yi, Wayne Bond Lau, Yajing Wang, Xiaoliang Wang, Yang Sun, Bernard L Lopez, Theodore A Christopher, Jonathan M Peterson, G William Wong, Shiqiang Yu, Dinghua Yi, Xin-Liang Ma
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2011, 31 (11): 2616-23

OBJECTIVE: Reduced plasma adiponectin (APN) in diabetic patients is associated with endothelial dysfunction. However, APN knockout animals manifest modest systemic dysfunction unless metabolically challenged. The protein family CTRPs (C1q/TNF-related proteins) has recently been identified as APN paralogs and some CTRP members share APN's metabolic regulatory function. However, the vasoactive properties of CTRPs remain completely unknown.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The vasoactivity of currently identified murine CTRP members was assessed in aortic vascular rings and underlying molecular mechanisms was elucidated in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Of 8 CTRPs, CTRPs 3, 5, and 9 caused significant vasorelaxation. The vasoactive potency of CTRP9 exceeded that of APN (3-fold) and is endothelium-dependent and nitric oxide (NO)-mediated. Mechanistically, CTRP9 increased AMPK/Akt/eNOS phosphorylation and increased NO production. AMPK knockdown completely blocked CTRP9-induced Akt/eNOS phosphorylation and NO production. Akt knockdown had no significant effect on CTRP9-induced AMPK phosphorylation, but blocked eNOS phosphorylation and NO production. Adiponectin receptor 1, but not receptor 2, knockdown blocked CTRP9-induced AMPK/Akt/eNOS phosphorylation and NO production. Finally, preincubating vascular rings with an AMPK-inhibitor abolished CTRP9-induced vasorelaxative effects.

CONCLUSION: We have provided the first evidence that CTRP9 is a novel vasorelaxative adipocytokine that may exert vasculoprotective effects via the adiponectin receptor 1/AMPK/eNOS dependent/NO mediated signaling pathway.

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