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Deletion Of P66 Shc Gene Protects Against Age-Related Endothelial Dysfunction

Pietro Francia, Chiara delli Gatti, Markus Bachschmid, Ines Martin-Padura, Carmine Savoia, Enrica Migliaccio, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Marzia Schiavoni, Thomas Felix Lüscher, Massimo Volpe, Francesco Cosentino

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Background— Enhanced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been recognized as the major determinant of age-related endothelial dysfunction. The p66 shc protein controls cellular responses to oxidative stress. Mice lacking p66 shc (p66 shc−/− ) have increased resistance to ROS and a 30% prolonged life span. The present study investigates age-dependent changes of endothelial function in this model. Methods and Results— Aortic rings from young and old p66 shc−/− or wild-type (WT) mice were suspended for isometric tension recording. Nitric oxide (NO) release was measured by a porphyrinic microsensor. Expression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), inducible NOS (iNOS), superoxide dismutase, and nitrotyrosine-containing proteins was assessed by Western blotting. Nitrotyrosine residues were also identified by immunohistochemistry. Superoxide (O 2 ) production was determined by coelenterazine-enhanced chemiluminescence. Endothelium-dependent relaxation in response to acetylcholine was age-dependently impaired in WT mice but not in p66 shc−/− mice. Accordingly, an age-related decline of NO release was found in WT but not in p66 shc−/− mice. The expression of eNOS and manganese superoxide dismutase was not affected by aging either in WT or in p66 shc−/− mice, whereas iNOS was upregulated only in old WT mice. It is interesting that old WT mice displayed a significant increase of O 2 production as well as of nitrotyrosine expression compared with young animals. Such age-dependent changes were not found in p66 shc−/− mice. Conclusions— We report that inactivation of the p66 shc gene protects against age-dependent, ROS-mediated endothelial dysfunction. These findings suggest that the p66 shc is part of a signal transduction pathway also relevant to endothelial integrity and may represent a novel target to prevent vascular aging.