A Novel Role for Calpain in the Endothelial Dysfunction Induced by Activation of Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Signaling
Rationale: The cytosolic protease calpain has been recently implicated in the vascular remodeling of angiotensin II (Ang II) type 1 receptor (AT1R) signaling. The role of Ang II/AT1R/calpain signaling on endothelial function, an important and early determinant of vascular pathology, remains though totally unknown. Accordingly, we investigated the role of calpain in the endothelial dysfunction of Ang II.
Objective: To demonstrate a mechanistic role for calpain in the endothelial dysfunction induced by Ang II/AT1R signaling. To establish endothelial-expressed calpains as an important target of AT1R signaling.
Methods and Results: Subchronic administration of nonpressor doses of Ang II to rats and mice significantly increased vascular calpain activity via AT1R signaling. Intravital microscopy studies revealed that activation of vascular expressed calpains causes endothelial dysfunction with increased leukocyte–endothelium interactions and albumin permeability in the microcirculation. Western blot and immunohistochemistry studies confirmed that Ang II/AT1R signaling preferentially activates the constitutively expressed μ-calpain isoform and demonstrated a calpain-dependent degradation of IκBα, along with upregulation of nuclear factor κB–regulated endothelial cell adhesion molecules. These physiological and biochemical parameters were nearly normalized following inhibition of AT1R or calpain in vivo. Antisense depletion studies in microvascular endothelial cells, along with knockout and transgenic mouse studies, further confirmed the role of μ-calpain in the endothelial adhesiveness induced by Ang II.
Conclusions: This study uncovers a novel role for calpain in the endothelial dysfunction of Ang II/AT1R signaling and establishes the calpain system as a novel molecular target of the vascular protective action of renin–angiotensin system inhibition. Our results may have significant clinical implications in vascular disease.
- Received November 5, 2010.
- Revision received March 7, 2011.
- Accepted March 8, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.