Impairment of pulmonary endothelium function in the pulmonary artery is a direct result of chronic hypoxia. This study is to investigate the vasculoprotective effects of U50,488H (a selective κ-opioid receptor agonist) and its underlying mechanism in hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery endothelial functional injury. Chronic hypoxia was simulated by exposing the rats to 10% oxygen for two weeks. After hypoxia, right ventricular pressure (RVP) and right ventricular hypertrophy index (RVHI) were measured. The pulmonary vascular dysfunction, effect of nitric oxide synthase inhibitor (L-NAME) on the relaxation of U50,488H and level of nitric oxide (NO) were determined. In vitro, the signaling pathway involved in the anti-apoptotic effect of U50,488H was investigated. Cultured endothelial cells were subjected to simulated hypoxia, and cell apoptosis was determined by TUNEL staining. U50,488H (1.25 mg/kg) significantly reduced RVP and RVHI in hypoxia. U50,488H markedly improved both pulmonary endothelial function (maximal vasorelaxation in response to ACh: 74.9±1.8%, n =6, P <0.01 vs. hypoxia for 2 wk group) and increased total NO production (1.65 fold). U50,488H relaxed the pulmonary artery rings of the hypoxic rats. This effect was partly abolished by L-NAME. In cells, U50,488H both increased NO production and reduced hypoxia-induced apoptosis. Moreover, pretreatment with nor-BNI (nor-binaltorphimine, a selective κ-opioid receptor antagonist), PI3K inhibitor, Akt inhibitor or L-NAME almost abolished anti-apoptotic effect exerted by U50,488H. U50,488H resulted in increases in Akt and eNOS phosphorylation. These results demonstrate that pretreatment with U50,488H attenuates hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction in an Akt-dependent and NO-mediated fashion.
- κ-opioid receptor
- Endothelial dysfunction
- Nitric oxide
- Copyright © 2012, Journal of Applied Physiology