Abstract 3012: Roles of ROCK and Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of Aortic Stiffness
Background: Epidemiologic studies have shown that there is a relationship between aortic stiffness and cardiovascular complications. Recent evidence suggests that ROCK plays an important role in the process of atherosclerosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) activity and aortic stiffness in humans.
Methods and Results: We evaluated the forearm blood flow (FBF) response to sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a nitric oxide donor, acetylcholine (ACh), an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, and fasudil, a specific ROCK inhibitor, in 51 healthy male subjects aged 19 to 81 years (mean age: 45.6±3.0 years). FBF was measured by using a strain-gauge plethysmograph. Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cf-PWV) was measured to assess the aortic stiffness using a pulse wave velocimeter. Intra-arterial infusion of SNP alone, ACh alone, or fasudil alone and after co-infusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA), a nitric-oxide synthase inhibitor, significantly increased FBF in a dose-dependent manner (p<0.01, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that age and number of pack-years smoked were independent predictors of ROCK activity before or after co-infusion of L-NMMA (p<0.01, respectively) and that age and ROCK activity before or after co-infusion of L-NMMA were independent predictors of cf-PWV (p<0.01, respectively). The concentration of serum malondialdehyde-modified low-density lipoprotein, an index of oxidative stress, was significantly correlated with ROCK activity before and after co-infusion of L-NMMA and cf-PWV (p<0.01, respectively).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that aging and accumulating smoking habit, which might induce excessive oxidative stress, are involved in ROCK activity in the vasculature, leading to an increase in aortic stiffness in humans.