BACKGROUND - Long-term inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is known to induce hypertension and perivascular fibrosis. Recent evidence also suggests that long-term NOS inhibition induces expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in vascular tissues and that PAI-1 may contribute to the development of fibrosis after chemical or ionizing injury. On the basis of these observations, we hypothesized that PAI-1 may influence the vascular response to long-term NOS inhibition by N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME).
METHODS AND RESULTS - We compared the temporal changes in systolic blood pressure and coronary perivascular fibrosis in PAI-1-deficient (PAI-1(-/-)) and wild-type (WT) male mice (N=6 per group). At baseline, there were no significant differences in blood pressure between groups. After initiation of L-NAME, systolic blood pressure increased in both groups at 2 weeks. Over an 8-week study period, systolic blood pressure increased to 141+/-3 mm Hg in WT animals versus 112+/-4 mm Hg in PAI-1(-/-) mice (P<0.0001). The extent of coronary perivascular fibrosis increased significantly in L-NAME-treated WT mice (P<0.01 versus PAI-1(-/-) mice). Cardiac type I collagen mRNA expression was greater in control (P<0.01) and L-NAME-treated PAI-1(-/-) (P<0.05) groups than in control WT mice, indicating that PAI-1 deficiency prevents the increase of collagen deposition by promoting matrix degradation.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings suggest that PAI-1 deficiency alone is sufficient to protect against the structural vascular changes that accompany hypertension in the setting of long-term NOS inhibition. Direct inhibition of vascular PAI-1 activity may provide a new therapeutic strategy for the prevention of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.