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Objectives: Rho-kinase plays a crucial role in various cellular functions. To elucidate molecular mechanisms of Rho-kinase-mediated cardiovascular remodeling in vivo, we evaluated whether a signaling pathway through Rho is involved, and whether Y-27632, a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor, stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and suppresses the oxidative stress and lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1 (LOX-1) pathway in the left ventricle of Dahl salt-sensitive hypertensive (DS) rats.

Methods: Y-27632 (3 mg/kg per day) or vehicle were given for 5 weeks, from age 6 weeks to a stage of left ventricular hypertrophy (11 weeks). Age-matched Dahl salt-resistant (DR) rats fed the same diet served as a control group.

Results: Increased left ventricular weight in the hypertrophy stage was significantly ameliorated by Y-27632. Upregulated RhoA protein, Rho-kinase gene expression and myosin light-chain phosphorylation in the hypertrophy stage were suppressed by Y-27632. Increased expression of NAD(P)H oxidase p22phox, p47phox, gp91phox and LOX-1 in DS rats were inhibited by Y-27632. Upregulated protein kinase C[varepsilon] and p65 nuclear factor-[kappa]B phosphorylation in DS rats was reduced by Y-27632. In contrast, downregulated eNOS expression in hypertrophy stage was upregulated by Y-27632. Y-27632 effectively inhibited vascular lesion formation, such as medial thickness and perivascular fibrosis, and suppressed transforming growth factor-[beta]1, type I and III collagen, and fibronectin gene expression.

Conclusions: Inhibiting the Rho-kinase pathway may play a key role in the cardioprotective effect on cardiovascular remodeling associated with eNOS and the oxidative stress-LOX-1 pathway in DS rats, and may be at least a potential therapeutic strategy for hypertension with cardiac hypertrophy.

(C) 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.