Endothelial dysfunction and compromised eNOS/Akt signaling in the thoracic aorta during the progression of Marfan syndrome

A. W.Y. Chung, K. Au Yeung, S. F. Cortes, G. G.S. Sandor, D. P. Judge, H. C. Dietz, C. Van Breemen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Aortic complications account for the major mortality in Marfan syndrome (MFS), a connective tissue disorder caused by mutations in FBN1 encoding fibrillin-1. We hypothesized that MFS impaired endothelial function and nitric oxide (NO) production in the aorta. Experimental approach: Mice (at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age) heterozygous for the Fbn1 allele encoding a cysteine substitution (Fbn1 C1039G/+, Marfan mice, n=75), the most common class of mutation in MFS, were compared with age-matched control littermates (n=75). Thoracic and abdominal aortas from the two groups were studied. Key results: Isometric force measurements revealed that relaxation to ACh (but not to sodium nitroprusside) was diminished in the phenylephrine-precontracted Marfan thoracic aorta at 6 months of age (pEC 50=6.12±0.22; maximal response, Emax=52.7±6. 8%; control: pEC50=7.34±0.19; Emax=84.8±2. 2%). At one year, both inhibition of NO production with Nω- nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, or denudation of endothelium increased the phenylephrine-stimulated contraction in the control thoracic aorta by 35%, but had no effect in the Marfan aorta, indicating a loss of basal NO production in the Marfan vessel. From 6 months, a reduced phosphorylation of endothelial NOS (eNOS)Ser1177 and AktThr308 detected by Western blotting was observed in the Marfan thoracic aorta, which was accompanied by decreased levels of cGMP. Expressions of Akt and eNOS in the abdominal aorta were not different between the two groups. Conclusions and Implications: MFS impairs endothelial function and signaling of NO production in the thoracic aorta, suggesting the importance of NO in the age-related progression of thoracic aortic manifestations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1083
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Acetylcholine
  • Akt, age-related disease progression
  • Endothelium-dependent relaxation
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Nitric oxide
  • Thoracic aorta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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