Recent studies have identified novel pathological roles for mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) in specific cell types in cardiovascular disease. The mechanisms by which MR promotes inflammation and fibrosis involve multiple cell-specific events. To identify the role of MR in endothelial cells (EC-MR), the current study explored the vascular responses to aldosterone in wild-type (WT) and EC-null mice (EC-MRKO). Nitric oxide function was impaired in the thoracic aorta and mesenteric arteries of aldosterone-treated WT mice. Although endothelial nitric oxide function was equivalently impaired in the mesenteric arteries of aldosterone-treated EC-MRKO mice, endothelial function was unaffected in the aorta, suggesting a differential role for EC-MR depending on the vascular bed. Second, the contribution of EC-MR to cardiovascular inflammation, fibrosis, and hypertension was determined in WT and EC-MRKO treated with deoxycorticosterone/salt for 8 days or 8 weeks. At 8 days, loss of EC-MR prevented macrophage infiltration and the expression of proinflammatory genes in the myocardium. Increased cardiac fibrosis was not detected in either genotype at this time, mRNA levels of profibrotic genes were significantly lower in EC-MRKO mice versus WT. At 8 weeks, deoxycorticosterone/salt treatment increased macrophage recruitment and proinflammatory gene expression in WT but not in EC-MRKO. Collagen deposition and connective tissue growth factor expression were significantly reduced in EC-MRKO versus WT. Interestingly, systolic blood pressure was equivalently elevated in deoxycorticosterone/salt treated WT and EC-MRKO. Our data demonstrate that (1) EC-MR signaling contributes to vascular nitric oxide function in large conduit arteries but not in resistance vessels and (2) an independent role for EC-MR in the inflammatory and profibrotic response to deoxycorticosterone/salt.
Keywords: deoxycorticosterone; endothelial cells; macrophages; receptors, mineralocorticoid.