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R Morishita
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GH Gibbons
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Y Kaneda
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L Zhang
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T Ogihara
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VJ Dzau
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Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease results from complex interactions among multiple genetic and environmental factors. Thus, it is important to elucidate the influence of each factor on cholesterol metabolism. For this purpose, transgenic/gene-targeting technology is a powerful tool for studying gene functions. However, this technology has several disadvantages such as being time consuming and expensive. Accordingly, we established new animal models using in vivo gene transfer technology. In this study, we examined the feasibility of the creation of a new animal model for the study of atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that apolipoprotein (apo) E-deficient mice can be created by systemic administration of antisense apo E oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) coupled to the HVJ-liposome complex. Initially, we examined the localization and cellular fate of FITC-labeled antisense ODN administered intravenously. FITC-labeled ODN transfection by the HVJ-liposome method resulted in fluorescence in the liver, spleen and kidney, but not in other organs such as brain. Moreover, fluorescence with the HVJ-liposome method was sustained for up to 2 weeks after transfection, which resulted in a striking difference from transfection of ODN alone or ODN in liposomes without HVJ, which showed rapid disappearance of fluorescence (within 1 day). Given these unique characteristics of the HVJ-liposome method, we next examined transfection of antisense apo E ODN by intravenous administration. Transfection of antisense apo E ODN resulted in a marked reduction of apo E mRNA levels in the liver, but no change in apo B and beta-actin mRNA levels. In mice fed a normal diet, a transient increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels was observed in the antisense apo E-treated group, but they returned to normal levels by 6 days after transfection. Similar findings were also found in mice fed a high cholesterol diet. Neither scrambled nor mismatched ODN resulted in any increase in cholesterol. To make chronic hypercholesterolemic mice, we therefore performed repeated injections of apo E antisense ODN. Whenever antisense apo E ODN were injected, mice showed a transient increase in cholesterol and triglyceride. Cumulative administration of antisense apo E ODN resulted in a sustained increase in cholesterol for up to 3 weeks after the last transfection. Finally, mice treated with repeated injections of antisense apo E every week developed sustained hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia until withdrawal of injections. Apolipoprotein-deficient mice created by intravenous administration of antisense ODN are a promising new animal model to help understand the role of apolipoprotein in vivo and develop a new drug therapy targeting apolipoprotein.

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K Matsumoto
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R Morishita
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N Tomita
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A Moriguchi
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K Yamasaki
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M Aoki
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T Nakamura
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J Higaki
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T Ogihara
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We have previously reported that a decrease in hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which has many protective functions against endothelial damage by high d-glucose, might be a trigger of endothelial injury. However, the regulation of vascular HGF in diabetes mellitus (DM) has not been clarified in vivo, although vascular disease is frequently observed in DM patients. In addition, our previous report revealed that a prostaglandin I(2) (PGI(2)) analogue prevented endothelial cell death through the induction of vascular HGF production in cultured human epithelial cells. Thus, in this study, we examined the effects of a PGI(2) analogue in the regulation of the local HGF system using DM rats. A PGI(2) analogue (beraprost sodium; 300 and 600 micro g/kg per day) or vehicle was administered to 16-week-old DM rats induced by administration of streptozotocin for 28 days. Endothelial function was evaluated by the vasodilator response to acetylcholine, and the expression of vascular HGF mRNA was measured by Northern blotting. Of importance, expression of HGF mRNA was significantly decreased in the blood vessels of DM rats as compared with non-DM (P<0.01). In addition, the in vitro vasodilator response of the abdominal aorta to acetylcholine was markedly impaired in DM rats. Importantly, the vasodilator response was restored by PGI(2) treatment in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.01), whereas N(omega)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester inhibited the restoration of endothelial function. Of particular interest, vascular HGF mRNA and protein were significantly increased in the blood vessels of DM rats treated with PGI(2) as compared with vehicle. Similarly, an increase in HGF protein was also confirmed by immunohistochemical analysis. In addition, the specific HGF receptor, c-met, was also increased by PGI(2) treatment. Overall, this study demonstrated that treatment with a PGI(2) analogue restored endothelial dysfunction in DM rats, accompanied by the induction of vascular HGF and c-met expression. Increased local vascular HGF production by a PGI(2) analogue may prevent endothelial injury, potentially resulting in the improvement of endothelial dysfunction.

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