Urotensin II receptor antagonism confers vasoprotective effects in diabetes associated atherosclerosis: Studies in humans and in a mouse model of diabetes
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Aims/hypothesis: The small, highly conserved vasoactive peptide urotensin II (UII) is upregulated in atherosclerosis. However, its effects in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis have not been assessed. Methods: Endothelial cells were grown in normal- and high-glucose (5 and 25 mmol/l) media with and without UII (10-8 mol/l) and/or the UII receptor antagonist, SB-657510 (10-8 mol/l). Apoe knockout (KO) mice with or without streptozotocin-induced diabetes were treated with or without SB-657510 (30 mg kg-1 day-1; n = 20 per group) and followed for 20 weeks. Carotid endarterectomy specimens from diabetic and non-diabetic humans were also evaluated. Results: In high (but not normal) glucose medium, UII significantly increased CCL2 (encodes macrophage chemoattractant protein 1 [MCP-1]) gene expression (human aortic endothelial cells) and increased monocyte adhesion (HUVECs). UII receptor antagonism in diabetic Apoe KO mice significantly attenuated diabetes-associated atherosclerosis and aortic staining for MCP-1, F4/80 (macrophage marker), cyclooxygenase-2, nitrotyrosine and UII. UII staining was significantly increased in carotid endarterectomies from diabetic compared with non-diabetic individuals, as was staining for MCP-1. Conclusions/ interpretation: This is the first report to demonstrate that UII is increased in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis in humans and rodents. Diabetes-associated plaque development was attenuated by UII receptor antagonism in the experimental setting. Thus UII may represent a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of diabetes-associated atherosclerosis.