To elucidate the role of natriuretic peptides in vascular remodeling, the effects of atrial natriuretic peptide, brain natriuretic peptide, and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) on the induction of inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS) in rat aortic smooth muscle cells were examined. Although none of the peptides when applied alone induced the production of nitrite, a stable end product of NO, each peptide dramatically enhanced nitrite production induced by a cytokine combination of interleukin-1 α and tumor necrosis factor-α. Each natriuretic peptide stimulated intracellular cGMP accumulation in a dose-dependent manner. Time-dependent nitrite production by the cytokines was increased by CNP cotreatment and inhibited by NG-methyl-L-arginine, indicating involvement of the L-arginine-NO pathway. Northern blot analysis showed that the augmented nitrite production was accompanied by an increase in iNOS messenger RNA. A cGMP analog, 8-bromo-cGMP, completely mimicked all of the effects of CNP described above. A cGMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor, KT5823, paradoxically increased nitrite production and iNOS messenger RNA levels induced by the combination of 8-bromo-cGMP and both cytokines or by the two cytokines only. These data demonstrate the stimulatory effect of cGMP on cytokine-induced iNOS and imply that natriuretic peptides may play a regulatory role in vascular remodeling via the production of large amounts of NO.
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