Endothelial dysfunction (EnD) occurs with aging and endothelial nitric oxide (NO) production by NO synthase (NOS) can be impaired. Low NO levels have been linked to increased arginase (Ar) activity as Ar competes with NOS for L-arginine. The inhibition of Ar activity can reverse EnD and (−)-epicatechin (Epi) inhibits myocardial Ar activity. In this study, through in silico modeling we demonstrate that Epi interacts with Ar similarly to its inhibitor Norvaline (Norv). Using in vitro and in vivo models of aging, we examined Epi and Norv-inhibition of Ar activity and its endothelium-protective effects. Bovine coronary artery endothelial cells (BCAEC) were treated with Norv (10 μM), Epi (1 μM) or the combination (Epi + Norv) for 48 h. Ar activity increased in aged BCAEC, with decreased NO generation. Treatment decreased Ar activity to levels seen in young cells. Epi and Epi + Norv decreased nitrosylated Ar levels by ~25% in aged cells with lower oxidative stress (~25%) (dihydroethidium) levels. In aged cells, Epi and Epi + Norv restored the eNOS monomer/dimer ratio, protein expression levels and NO production to those of young cells. Furthermore, using 18 month old rats 15 days of treatment with either Epi (1 mg/kg), Norv (10 mg/kg) or combo, decreased hypertension and improved aorta vasorelaxation to acetylcholine, blood NO levels and tetra/dihydribiopterin ratios in cultured rat aortic endothelial cells. In conclusion, results provide evidence that inhibiting Ar with Epi reverses aged-related loss of eNOS function and improves vascular function through the modulation of Ar and eNOS protein levels and activity.
- Endothelial dysfunction
- Nitric oxide synthase