Vascular pharmacology

Mild caloric restriction reduces blood pressure and activates endothelial AMPK-PI3K-Akt-eNOS pathway in obese Zucker rats.

PMID 25530153


Genetic obesity models exhibit endothelial dysfunction associated to adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) dysregulation. This study aims to assess if mild short-term caloric restriction (CR) restores endothelial AMPK activity leading to an improvement in endothelial function. Twelve-week old Zucker lean and obese (fa/fa) male rats had access to standard chow either ad libitum (AL, n=8) or 80% of AL (CR, n=8) for two weeks. Systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in fa/fa AL rats versus lean AL animals, but was normalized by CR. Endothelium-dependent relaxation to acetylcholine (ACh, 10(-9) to 10(-4) M) was reduced in fa/fa AL compared to control lean AL rats (p<0.001), and restored by CR. The AMPK activator AICAR (10(-5) to 8·10(-3) M) elicited a lower relaxation in fa/fa AL rings that was normalized by CR (p<0.001). Inhibition of PI3K (wortmannin, 10(-7) M), Akt (triciribine, 10(-5) M), or eNOS (L-NAME, 10(-4) M) markedly reduced AICAR-induced relaxation in lean AL, but not in fa/fa AL rats. These inhibitions were restored by CR in Zucker fa/fa rings. These data show that mild short-term CR improves endothelial function and lowers blood pressure in obesity due to the activation of the AMPK-PI3K-Akt-eNOS pathway.