Acute activation of endothelial AMPK surprisingly inhibits endothelium‐dependent hyperpolarization‐like relaxations in rat mesenteric arteries

Article date: August 2019

By: Hui Chen, Paul M. Vanhoutte, Susan W.S. Leung in Volume 176, Issue 16, pages 2905-2921

Background and Purpose

Endothelium‐dependent hyperpolarizations (EDHs) contribute to the regulation of peripheral resistance. They are initiated through opening of endothelial calcium‐activated potassium channels (KCa); the potassium ions released then diffuse to the underlying smooth muscle cells, causing hyperpolarization and thus relaxation. The present study aimed to examine whether or not AMPK modulates EDH‐like relaxations in rat mesenteric arteries.

Experimental Approach

Arterial rings were isolated for isometric tension recording. AMPK activity and protein level were measured by ELISA and western blotting respectively.

Key Results

The AMPK activator, AICAR, reduced ACh‐induced EDH‐like relaxations and increased AMPK activity in preparations with endothelium; these responses were prevented by compound C, an AMPK inhibitor. AICAR inhibited relaxations induced by SKA‐31 (opener of endothelial KCa) but did not affect potassium‐induced, hyperpolarization‐attributable relaxations or increase AMPK activity in preparations without endothelium. A769662, another AMPK activator, not only caused a similar inhibition of relaxations to ACh and SKA‐31 in preparations with endothelium but also inhibited hyperpolarization‐attributable relaxations and augmented AMPK activity in rings without endothelium. Protein levels of total AMPKα, AMPKα1, or AMPKβ1/2 were comparable between preparations with and without endothelium.

Conclusions and Implications

Activation of endothelial AMPK, by either AICAR or A769662, acutely inhibits EDH‐like relaxations of rat mesenteric arteries. Furthermore, A769662 inhibits signalling downstream of smooth muscle hyperpolarization. In view of the major blunting effect of AMPK activation on EDH‐like relaxations, caution should be applied when administering therapeutic agents that activate AMPK in patients with endothelial dysfunction characterized by reduced production and/or bioavailability of NO.

DOI: 10.1111/bph.14716

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