Impaired dopamine D1 receptor-mediated vasorelaxation of mesenteric arteries in obese Zucker rats
- Jinjuan Fu†1, 2,
- Yu Han†1, 2,
- Hongyong Wang†1, 2,
- Zhen Wang1, 2,
- Yukai Liu1, 2,
- Xingjian Chen1, 2,
- Yue Cai1, 2,
- Weiwei Guan1, 2,
- Di Yang1, 2,
- Laureano D Asico3,
- Lin Zhou1, 2Email author,
- Pedro A Jose3, 4 and
- Chunyu Zeng1, 2Email author
© Fu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014
Received: 7 February 2014
Accepted: 20 February 2014
Published: 22 February 2014
Obesity plays an important role in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Renal dopamine D1-like receptor-mediated diuresis and natriuresis are impaired in the obese Zucker rat, an obesity-related hypertensive rat model. The role of arterial D1 receptors in the hypertension of obese Zucker rats is not clear.
Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and blood pressure were measured. The vasodilatory response of isolated mesenteric arteries was evaluated using a small vessel myograph. The expression and phosphorylation of D1 receptors were quantified by co-immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting To determine the effect of hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia on the function of the arterial D1 receptor, we studied obese Zucker rats (six to eight-weeks old) fed (6 weeks) vehicle or rosiglitazone, an insulin sensitizer (10 mg/kg per day) and lean Zucker rats (eight to ten-weeks old), fed high-fat diet to induce hyperinsulinemia or injected intraperitoneally with streptomycin (STZ) to induce hyperglycemia.
In obese Zucker rats, the vasorelaxant effect of D1-like receptors was impaired that could be ascribed to decreased arterial D1 receptor expression and increased D1 receptor phosphorylation. In these obese rats, rosiglitazone normalized the arterial D1 receptor expression and phosphorylation and improved the D1-like receptor-mediated vasorelaxation. We also found that D1 receptor-dependent vasorelaxation was decreased in lean Zucker rats with hyperinsulinemia or hyperglycemia but the D1 receptor dysfunction was greater in the former than in the latter group. The ability of insulin and glucose to decrease D1 receptor expression and increase its phosphorylation were confirmed in studies of rat aortic smooth muscle cells.
Both hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia caused D1 receptor dysfunction by decreasing arterial D1 receptor expression and increasing D1 receptor phosphorylation. Impaired D1 receptor-mediated vasorelaxation is involved in the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension.
KeywordsDopamine D1 receptor Vasorelaxation Hyperinsulinemia Hyperglycemia Obesity-related hypertension Obese Zucker rats
There is an increasing incidence of metabolic syndrome (MS) which is characterized by abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low serum high density lipoprotein cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and elevated fasting plasma glucose. The metabolic syndrome can cause or intensify cardiovascular, as well as renal disease[1, 2]. One of the possible etiologies of the metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance associated with hyperinsulinemia[1–4]. The stimulatory effect of insulin on sympathetic drive, vascular smooth muscle growth and sodium and water retention and its inhibitory effect on prostacyclin synthesis have been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension.
Dopamine, a well recognized neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, is also an important modulator of renal and adrenal function, sodium balance, and blood pressure. Dopamine receptors are classified into two subfamilies: the D1-like receptor subfamily includes the D1 and the D5 receptors, while the D2, D3 and D4 receptors belong to the D2-like receptor subfamily. Dysfunction of the renal dopaminergic system is implicated in the pathogenesis and/or maintenance of hypertension[9, 10].
The obese Zucker rat is a model of metabolic syndrome characterized by hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and hypertension. Dopamine has been implicated in the development of obesity, caused, in part, by increased food intake due to decreased dopaminergic function, specifically the D2 receptor, in the central nervous system[11, 12]. D1 receptor mediated-natriuresis and diuresis are also impaired in obese Zucker rats[13, 14]. Although the kidney is important in the long-term regulation of blood pressure, hypertension is also accompanied by increased vascular resistance. Dopamine receptors are expressed in resistance vessels. In the rat mesenteric artery, D1 and D5 receptors are expressed in the tunica media while D2-like receptors are expressed mainly at the adventitia-tunica media transitional zone. The increase in blood pressure with aging has been related to a decrease in the expression of arterial D1, D2, and D5 receptor. However, the role of the arterial D1 receptor in the hypertension of obese Zucker rats is not clear. Our current study tested the hypothesis that the vasorelaxant effect of the D1 receptor is impaired in obese Zucker rats.
Male obese Zucker rats and age-matched male lean Zucker rats were housed in plastic cages and fed normal rodent chow and tap water. Twelve obese Zucker rats (six to eight-weeks old) were randomly divided into two groups: 1) one group consisted of obese rats treated (6 weeks) with oral rosiglitazone maleate (10 mg/kg, suspended in 1% carboxy methyl cellulose in distilled water); and 2) the other group consisted of obese control rats treated with the vehicle (1% carboxy methyl cellulose). Eighteen lean Zucker rats (eight to ten-weeks old) were randomly divided into three groups: 1) control rats fed normal diet and treated with vehicle; 2) rats fed control diet and treated with STZ (single intraperitoneal injection, 65 mg/kg); and 3) rats fed high-fat diet (with 50% fat-derived calories) for one month.
All experiments were approved by the Daping Hospital Animal Use and Care Committee and all procedures were approved by the Experimental Animals Committee of Daping Hospital.
Blood pressure and plasma glucose and insulin measurements
After an overnight fast, obese and lean Zucker rats were anesthetized with pentobarbital (Nembutal) with an initial dose of 60 mg/kg, followed by constant infusion at 40 mg/kg/hr. Following a tracheotomy, the left carotid artery was catheterized with polyethylene-50 tubing for blood pressure monitoring. Blood pressure and heart rate were allowed to stabilize for 10 minutes before accepting the blood pressure and heart rate observed as baseline. The abdomen was opened to expose the abdominal aorta and blood samples were collected from the aorta in EDTA-coated tubes for measurement of plasma glucose and insulin, and then the rats were sacrificed by an overdose of pentobarbital (100 mg/kg body wt). Plasma glucose concentrations were determined by using Accu-Chek Advantage glucose monitoring system. Plasma insulin levels were measured by a rat insulin 96-well plate assay (Millipore Co., St Charles, MO).
Preparation and study of small resistance arteries
Each rat was anesthetized with sodium pentobarbital (60 mg/kg). The entire mesenteric bed was removed carefully and placed in ice-cold physiological salt solution (PSS) containing (mM):NaCl 119, KCl 4.7, CaCl2·H2O 2.5, MgSO4·H2O 1.17, NaH2CO3 25, KH2PO4 1.18, EDTA 0.027, and glucose 5.5, adjusted to pH 7.4. The mesenteric artery was carefully and quickly dissected from the surrounding fat and connective tissues. Third-order branches of the superior mesenteric artery (resting arterial diameter: 200 ± 20 μm) were cut into rings approximately 2 mm in length, and mounted on 40 μm stainless-steel wires in an isometric Mulvany-Halpern small-vessel myograph (model 91 M610, J.P. Trading, Science Park, Aarhus, Denmark). One wire was attached to a force transducer and the other to a micrometer so that wall tension can be measured at a predetermined internal diameter. The rings were maintained in PSS at 37°C and continuously bubbled with oxygen (95%) and carbon dioxide (5%) (Carbogen). The dissecting procedures were performed with extreme care to protect the endothelium from inadvertent damage, proved by a normal response to acetylcholine (Ach) (10-5 Ach-induced relaxation >80% of basal values of arteries preconstricted with phenylephrine HCl [PHE, 10-5M]). In some vessels, the endothelium was removed by pulling a hair along the inside of the vessel; successful denudation of the endothelium was confirmed by the absence of relaxation with Ach (10-5M). Following mounting, the arterial ring was equilibrated in PSS for 1 hr at 37°C at a wall tension of 0.1 mN/mm. Based on preliminary data from >100 vessels, we confirmed that a normalized circumference (L0) = 0.9 L100 resulted in maximal active force development. The vessels were studied at L0 in all subsequent protocols. After determining the response to Ach, as indicated above, the vessels were rinsed three times with fresh PSS and allowed to recover to baseline for 15 minutes. In the first set of experiments, the rings were contracted with phenylephrine HCl (10-5M) and high-potassium PSS (KPSS, 125 mM) to obtain the maximal response. After obtaining the maximal response to PHE (10-5M), the response curves to fenoldopam, a D1 receptor agonist[9, 10], were measured by a cumulative concentration-dependent protocol (10-9 to 10-5M). Response to every single concentration of fenoldopam was observed for 2 minutes. To test the vasorelaxant specific effects of D1 receptors, the arteries were incubated with the D1-like receptor antagonist SCH23390 (10-7M) for 30 minutes before fenoldopam treatment. In order to determine specificity of the vasodilatory effect of D1 receptor stimulation, we studied the vasodilation induced by sodium nitroprusside (SNP, 10-10 to 10-4M) in PHE-preconstricted mesenteric arteries.
Cell and sample preparation
Embryonic thoracic aortic smooth muscle cells from normotensive Berlin–Druckrey IX rats (A10, ATCC, Hercules, CA) were cultured at 37°C in 95% air/5% CO2 atmosphere in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium. A10 cells (80% confluence) and mesenteric arteries from Zucker rats were flash frozen by liquid nitrogen and homogenized in ice-cold lysis buffer (5 ml/gm tissue) (20 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4; 2 mM EDTA, pH 8.0; 2 mM EGTA; 100 mM NaCl; 10 μg/ml leupeptin; 10 μg/ml aprotinin; 2 mM phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride; 1% NP-40), sonicated, kept on ice for 1 hr, and centrifuged at 16,000 g for 30 minutes. All samples were stored at -70°C until use.
After boiling the homogenates in sample buffer (35 mmol/L Tris-HCl, pH 6.8, 4% SDS, 9.3% dithiothreitol, 0.01% bromophenol blue, 30% glycerol) at 95°C for 5 min, 100 μg of protein were separated by SDS-PAGE (10% polyacrylamide), and then electroblotted onto nitrocellulose membranes (Bio-Rad). The blots were blocked overnight with 5% nonfat dry milk in phosphate buffered saline with Tween 20 (PBST) (0.05% Tween 20 in 10 mmol/l phosphate buffered (isotonic) saline) at 4°C with constant shaking, then incubated with polyclonal rabbit anti-rat D1 receptor antibodies (1:400 dilution; Millipore) overnight in the cold-room at 4°C. The membranes were then further incubated with infrared- labeled secondary antibodies (donkey anti-rabbit IRDye 800, Li-Cor Biosciences, Lincoln, NE) added to bind to the primary antibody at room temperature for 1 hr. The membranes were washed three times with PBST. The bound complex was detected using the Odyssey Infrared Imaging System (Li-Cor Biosciences). The images were analyzed using the Odyssey Application Software to obtain the integrated intensities.
Determination of basal D1 receptor phosphorylation by co-immunoprecipitation
Equal amounts of lysates (1.0 mg protein/ml supernatant from A10 cells or mesenteric artery) were incubated with polyclonal antiphosphoserine antibody (HKSP, New Territories, HK) (2.5 μg/ml) for 1 hr and protein-G agarose at 4°C for 12 hr. The immunoprecipitates were pelleted and washed four times with lysis buffer. The pellets were suspended in sample buffer, boiled for 10 min, and subjected to immunoblotting with polyclonal affinity-purified rabbit anti-rat D1 receptor antibody. In order to determine the specificity of the bands, normal rabbit IgG (negative control) and D1 receptor antibody (positive control) were used as the immunoprecipitants. The bound complexes were detected using the Odyssey Infrared Imaging System (Li-Cor Biosciences). The images were analyzed using the Odyssey Application Software to obtain the integrated intensities.
Fenoldopam, rosiglitazone maleate, STZ, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor PD98059, Ach, SNP, PHE, and D1 receptor antagonist SCH23390 were obtained from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, MO). Rabbit anti-rat D1 receptor polyclonal antibodies and rat insulin 96 well plate assay kit were obtained from Millipore Corporation (St Charles, MO); and anti-phosphoserine antibodies were obtained from Abcam Ltd (New Territories, Hong Kong, China).
The data are expressed as mean ± SEM. Comparison within groups was made by repeated measures ANOVA (or paired t- test when only 2 groups were compared), and comparison among groups (or t-test when only 2 groups were compared) was made by factorial ANOVA with Holm-Sidak test. A value of P < 0.05 was considered significant.
D1 receptor-mediated vasorelaxant effect is impaired in mesenteric arteries from obese Zucker rats
General and biochemical parameters of lean and obese Zucker rats (12-14 weeks old)
Body weight (g)
Plasma glucose (mmol/L)
Plasma insulin (ng/ml)
Mean blood pressure
Roles of hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia in the D1 receptor vascular dysfunction in obese Zucker rats
Effect of insulin and glucose on D1 receptor expression and phosphorylation in A10 cells
Role of hyperinsulinemia in obesity-related hypertension
Obesity is a well-known risk factor for hypertension[15, 35]. Indeed, risk estimates according to the Framingham study show that roughly 80% of essential hypertension in men and 65% in women can be directly attributed to obesity. It is accepted that insulin resistance is epidemiologically linked with hypertension[37, 38]. The compensatory hyperinsulinemia that occurs with insulin resistance increases renal sodium reabsorption and sympathetic activity and leads to elevated arterial pressure. Insulin resistance and compensatory hyperinsulinemia impair the production of nitric oxide and favor the production of vasoconstrictors[40–42]. Our current study found hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and elevated blood pressure in obese Zucker rats that were reduced by rosiglitazone treatment similar to previous reports[43, 44]. We also found that lean Zucker rats fed a high fat diet had hyperinsulinemia and STZ-treated lean Zucker rats were hyperglycemic and hypoinsulinemic, similar to other reports[31, 45].
Impairment of D1 receptor-mediated vasodilation is involved in obesity-related hypertension
Dopamine has been reported as an important modulator of sodium balance, renal and adrenal function, and blood pressure and is relevant to the pathogenesis and/or maintenance of hypertension. In humans with essential hypertension and rodents with genetic hypertension (SHRs and Dahl salt-sensitive rats), D1-like receptor agonist-mediated natriuretic and diuretic responses are impaired[46, 47]. The ability of D1-like receptors to stimulate adenylyl cyclase activity in renal arteries is also impaired in SHRs and we have also reported an impaired ability of D1 receptors to dilate the mesenteric arteries of SHRs. Other studies have shown that the D1 receptor is hyperphosphorylated and uncoupled from G protein subunits, leading to the D1 receptor dysfunction in SHRs, which precedes the onset of hypertension and co-segregates with the hypertensive phenotype[10, 50]. Thus, D1 receptor dysfunction is a primary defect in the hypertension of SHRs. Lokhandwala et al have found that obese Zucker rats have defective renal D1 receptor function associated with a decrease in D1 receptor expression and ability to inhibit Na, K-ATPase and Na,H-exchanger activities in renal proximal tubules[13, 28, 30]. These authors suggested that the renal dopaminergic dysfunction in obese Zucker rats is acquired and not inherited and could be ameliorated by inhibition of reactive oxygen species production by tempol and insulin sensitization by rosiglitazone[28, 29]. Because increased peripheral vascular resistance and altered vascular reactivity are distinctive features of essential hypertension, we tested the hypothesis that the hypertension of obese Zucker rats may be caused by an impairment of D1 receptor-mediated vasodilation. This was indeed the case as the D1 receptor-mediated vasorelaxation was impaired in obese Zucker rats. This dysfunction of the D1 receptor could be ascribed to the decreased D1 receptor expression and increased D1 receptor phosphorylation because the rosiglitazone-mediated amelioration of the impaired D1 receptor relaxant effect was associated with an increase in D1 receptor expression and a decrease in D1 receptor phosphorylation. Rosiglitazone, a PPARγ agonist, has many effects on the cardiovascular system independent of its insulin sensitizing effects, including anti-inflammation and direct stimulation of NO production. Whether or not such mechanisms were involved in the rosiglitazone-mediated improvement of the vasodilatory effect of the D1 receptor in the current report needs to be determined in a future study.
Role of hyperinsulinemia or hyperglycemia in the dysfunction of arterial D1 receptor in obese Zucker rats
Obese Zucker rats have increased plasma insulin and fasting glucose levels[24, 52, 53]. As stated above, treatment of obese Zucker rats with rosiglitazone reduced plasma insulin and glucose levels and improved the vasorelaxant effect of fenoldopam that was associated with an increase in the vascular expression of D1 receptor and a decrease in vascular serine-phosphorylated D1 receptor. Thus, hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia may be involved in the defective fenoldopam-mediated relaxation in small mesenteric arteries isolated from obese Zucker rats. In order to identify the mechanisms that caused the impaired D1 receptor vasodilatory function in obese Zucker rats, we used two rat models: high fat diet-induced hyperinsulinemia and STZ-induced type 1 diabetes in lean Zucker rats. The former rat model is characterized by insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia[31, 32] while the latter rat model is characterized by hyperglycemia and low plasma insulin levels[33, 34]. After the establishment of hyperinsulinemia or hyperglycemia, mesenteric arteries had an impaired fenoldopam-mediated vasorelaxation that was more evident in the high fat diet-fed hyperinsulinemic rats than STZ-induced type I diabetic rats. Therefore, both hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia are involved in the dysfunction of the arterial D1 receptor, but hyperinsulinemia plays a more important role than hyperglycemia in this phenomenon.
The ability of increased insulin and glucose concentrations to decrease D1 receptor expression and increase D1 receptor phosphorylation in vivo was confirmed in vitro in A10 cells. Treatment of A10 cells with insulin decreased D1 receptor expression and increased D1 receptor phosphorylation, consistent with the findings in renal proximal tubule cells[54, 55]. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is activated in cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes and hypertension[56, 57]. The up-regulation of MAPK reduces renal D1 receptor affinity and G-protein coupling in obese rats. The current studies also showed that blockade of MAPK reversed both the decreased D1 receptor expression and increased D1 receptor phosphorylation caused by high insulin in A10 cells.
Besides of the role of hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia in the D1-receptor mediated arterial dysfunction, adiponectin, as an important adipose tissue-derived factor, might have some effect on dopamine function. For example, monosodium glutamate induces obesity in rodents markedly decreases adiponectin levels and compromises dopaminergic systems. Moreover, dopamine stimulates adiponectin release, and antidiabetic treatment in Zucker diabetic fatty rats inhibits the development of hypo-adiponectinemia in mesenteric resistance arteries, but is not able to improve adiponectin induced vasodilation. Whether or not the plasma adiponectin would affect arterial dopamine receptor function needs to be determined in the future study.
In summary, this study shows that both hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia impair vascular D1 receptor function that is associated with decreased D1 receptor expression and increased D1 receptor phosphorylation. Besides, hyperinsulinemia plays a more important role than hyperglycemia in the dysfunction of the arterial D1 receptor in obese Zucker rats. Impaired D1 receptor-mediated vasorelaxation is involved in the pathogenesis of obesity-related hypertension.
Physiological salt solution
Mitogen-activated protein kinase
This research was supported by grants from the National Outstanding Youth Science Foundation (30925018) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (81070559, 81270338).
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