Several studies have documented cardiovascular effects of apelin, including enhanced inotropy and vasodilation. However, these cardiovascular effects are short lived due to the predicted short circulating half-life of the apelin peptide. To address this limitation of apelin, we pursued N-terminal PEGylation of apelin and examined the cardiovascular effects of the PEGylated apelin. A 40kDa PEG conjugated apelin-36 (PEG-apelin-36) was successfully produced with N-terminal conjugation, high purity (>98%) and minimum reduction of APJ receptor binding affinity. Using an adenylate cyclase inhibition assay, comparable in vitro bioactivity was observed between the PEG-apelin-36 and unmodified apelin-36. In vivo evaluation of the PEG-apelin-36 was performed in normal rats and rats with myocardial infarction (MI). Cardiac function was assessed via echocardiography before, during a 20 min IV infusion and up to 100 min post peptide infusion. Similar increases in cardiac ejection fraction (EF) were observed during the infusion of PEG-apelin-36 and apelin-36 in normal rats. However, animals that received PEG-apelin-36 maintained significantly increased EF over the 100 min post infusion monitoring period compared to the animals that received unmodified apelin-36. Interestingly, EF increases observed with PEG-apelin-36 and apelin-36 were greater in the MI rats. PEG-apelin-36 had a prolonged circulating life compared to apelin-36 in rats. There were no changes in aortic blood pressure when PEG-apelin-36 or apelin-36 was administered. To our knowledge this is the first report of apelin PEGylation and documentation of its cardiovascular effects.
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