Some plant-based diets lower the cardiometabolic risks and prevalence of hypertension. New evidence implies a role for the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) cation channel in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases. Little is known about impact of chronic TRPV1 activation on the regulation of vascular function and blood pressure. Here we report that chronic TRPV1 activation by dietary capsaicin increases the phosphorylation of protein kinase A (PKA) and eNOS and thus production of nitric oxide (NO) in endothelial cells, which is calcium dependent. TRPV1 activation by capsaicin enhances endothelium-dependent relaxation in wild-type mice, an effect absent in TRPV1-deficient mice. Long-term stimulation of TRPV1 can activate PKA, which contributes to increased eNOS phosphorylation, improves vasorelaxation, and lowers blood pressure in genetically hypertensive rats. We conclude that TRPV1 activation by dietary capsaicin improves endothelial function. TRPV1-mediated increase in NO production may represent a promising target for therapeutic intervention of hypertension.
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