Increased expression of urotensin II and its cognate receptor GPR14 in atherosclerotic lesions of the human aorta

Atherosclerosis. 2004 Sep;176(1):117-23. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2004.03.023.


Urotensin II (U-II), a novel vasoactive peptide, possesses a wide range of cardiovascular effects. U-II binds a seven transmembrane spanning G-protein coupled receptor termed GPR14. In the present study, we have characterized U-II expression in both carotid and aortic atherosclerotic plaques. Using immunohistochemistry we demonstrated U-II immunoreactivity in endothelial, smooth muscle and inflammatory cells of both carotid and aortic plaques, with a clear propensity for intimal staining. Using quantitative real-time RT-PCR we observed both increased U-II and GPR14 mRNA expression in tissue extracts from abdominal aortic aneurysms. We also extended our PCR analysis to include leukocyte expression of U-II and GPR14. We found that lymphocytes were by far the largest producers of U-II mRNA. In contrast monocytes and macrophages were the largest producers of GPR14 mRNA, with relatively little expression in foam cells, lymphocytes, and platelets. Our findings qualitatively and quantitatively demonstrate increased expression of U-II in atherosclerosis with a large degree of inflammatory cell involvement. These findings suggest a possible role for U-II in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta / metabolism*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / metabolism*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / metabolism*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / physiopathology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / surgery
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Urotensins / genetics
  • Urotensins / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • UTS2R protein, human
  • Urotensins
  • urotensin II