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K Takahashi, M Ohmichi, M Yoshida, K Hisamoto, S Mabuchi, E Arimoto-Ishida, A Mori, S Tsutsumi, K Tasaka, Y Murata and H Kurachi

The proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) is a crucial pathophysiological process in the development of atherosclerosis. Although estrogen is known to inhibit the proliferation of VSMC, the mechanism responsible for this effect remains to be elucidated. In addition, the effect of raloxifene on VSMC remains unknown. We have shown here that 17beta-estradiol (E(2)) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-stimulated proliferation of cultured human VSMC. Flow cytometry demonstrated that PDGF-stimulated S-phase progression of the cell cycle in VSMC was also suppressed by E(2) or raloxifene. We found that PDGF-induced phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein (pRb), whose hyperphosphorylation is a hallmark of the G1-S transition in the cell cycle, was significantly inhibited by E(2) and raloxifene. These effects were associated with a decrease in cyclin D1 expression, without a change in cyclin-dependent kinase 4 or cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27(kip1) expression. ICI 182,780 abolished the inhibitory effects of E(2) and raloxifene on PDGF-induced pRb phosphorylation. Next, we examined which estrogen receptor (ER) is necessary for these effects of E(2) and raloxifene. Since VSMC express both ERalpha and ERbeta, A10, a rat aortic smooth muscle cell line that expresses ERbeta but not ERalpha, was used. The dose-dependent stimulation of A10 cell proliferation by PDGF was not inhibited by E(2) or raloxifene in contrast to the results obtained in VSMC. Moreover, E(2) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the PDGF-induced cyclin D1 promoter activity in A10 cells transfected with cDNA for ERalpha but not in the parental cells. These results suggested that E(2) and raloxifene exert an antiproliferative effect in VSMC treated with PDGF, at least in part through inhibition of pRb phosphorylation, and that the inhibitory effects of E(2) and raloxifene may be mainly mediated by ERalpha.

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A Mori-Abe, S Tsutsumi, K Takahashi, M Toya, M Yoshida, B Du, J Kawagoe, K Nakahara, T Takahashi, M Ohmichi and H Kurachi

Proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) plays a major role as an initiating event of atherosclerosis. Although estrogen directly inhibits the proliferation of VSMC, the mechanism has not been firmly established. In addition, the effect of raloxifene on VSMC remains unknown. 17Beta-estradiol (E(2)) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the growth of VSMC under growth-stimulated conditions. Since mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases have been implicated in VSMC proliferation, the role of MAP kinases in both the E(2)- and raloxifene-induced growth inhibition of VSMC was studied. Both E(2) and raloxifene caused rapid, transient phosphorylation and activation of p38 that was not affected by actinomycin D and was blocked by ICI 182,780. In contrast with p38 phosphorylation, extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) phosphorylation was significantly inhibited and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation was not changed by E(2). Because VSMC expressed both estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ERbeta, it is not known which of them mediates the E(2)-induced phosphorylation of p38. Although E(2) did not affect the p38 phosphorylation in A10 smooth muscle cells, which express ERbeta but not ERalpha, transfection of ERalpha expression vector into A10 cells rendered them susceptible to induction of p38 phosphorylation by E(2). We then examined whether E(2) and raloxifene induce apoptosis through a p38 cascade. Both E(2) and raloxifene induced apoptosis under growth-stimulated conditions. The p38 inhibitor SB 203580 completely blocked the E(2)-induced apoptosis. Our findings suggest that both E(2)- and raloxifene-induced inhibition of VSMC growth is due to induction of apoptosis through a p38 cascade whose activation is mediated by ERalpha via a nongenomic mechanism.

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W Yin, D Liao, M Kusunoki, S Xi, K Tsutsumi, Z Wang, X Lian, T Koike, J Fan, Y Yang and C Tang

The synthetic compound NO-1886 (ibrolipim) is a lipoprotein lipase activator that has been proven to be highly effective in lowering plasma triglycerides. Recently, we found that NO-1886 also reduced plasma free fatty acids and glucose in high-fat/high-sucrose diet-induced diabetic rabbits. In the current study, we investigated the effects of NO-1886 treatment on ectopic lipid deposition and the islet pathology in miniature swine fed a high-fat/high-sucrose diet. Our results showed that feeding this diet to miniature swine caused insulin resistance, increased lipid deposition in non-adipose tissue, such as in the heart, skeletal muscle, liver and pancreas, and also caused pancreatic beta cell damage. However, supplementing 1% NO-1886 (200 mg/kg per day) into the high-fat/high-sucrose diet decreased ectopic lipid deposition, improved insulin resistance, and alleviated the beta cell damage. These results suggest that improvement of lipid disorder, non-adipose tissue steatosis and insulin resistance may be very important for the protection of beta cell damage. Therefore, NO-1886 is potentially beneficial for the treatment of insulin-resistance syndrome.