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Follistatin-like 1 protects endothelial function in the spontaneously hypertensive rat by inhibition of endoplasmic reticulum stress through AMPK-dependent mechanism.

OBJECTIVE: Endothelial dysfunction is a critical initiating factor in the development of hypertension and related complications. Follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1) can promote endothelial cell function and stimulates revascularization in response to ischemic insult. However, it is unclear whether FSTL1 has an effect on ameliorating endothelial dysfunction in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs).

METHODS: Wistar Kyoto (WKY) and SHRs were treated with a tail vein injection of vehicle (1 mL/day) or recombinant FSTL1 (100 μg/kg body weight/day) for 4 weeks. Blood pressure was measured by tail-cuff plethysmograph, and vascular reactivity in mesenteric arteries was measured using wire myography.

RESULTS: We found that treatment with FSTL1 reversed impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) in mesenteric arteries and lowered blood pressure of SHRs. Decreased AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation, elevated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), and reduction of nitric oxide (NO) production in mesenteric arteries of SHRs were also reversed by FSTL1 treatment. Ex vivo treatment with FSTL1 improved the impaired EDR in mesenteric arteries from SHRs and reversed tunicamycin (ER stress inducer)-induced ER stress and the impairment of EDR in mesenteric arteries from WKY rats. The effects of FSTL1 were abolished by cotreatment of compound C (AMPK inhibitor).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that FSTL1 prevents endothelial dysfunction in mesenteric arteries of SHRs through inhibiting ER stress and ROS and increasing NO production via activation of AMPK signaling.

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