In addition to the atria, recent evidence suggests that atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is also synthesized in other tissues. Of particular interest is the location of ANP mRNA in the vessel wall. We and others have shown that exogenously added ANP inhibited the growth of endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in culture. However, it is not known if the locally synthesized ANP would act similarly. Because cultured endothelial cells and VSMC have lost the ability to express the endogenous ANP gene, we have transfected cells in culture with an expression vector expressing rat ANP and have examined the effects on growth. Cultured endothelial cells transfected with an ANP expression vector synthesized and secreted high levels of ANP. These cells also showed significantly lower rates of DNA synthesis under basal and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-stimulated conditions. Addition of conditioned medium from endothelial cells transfected with ANP vector to nontransfected endothelial cells resulted in the significant increase in cyclic GMP. Similarly, conditioned media collected from endothelial cells transfected with ANP vector also decreased DNA synthesis in VSMC. Coculture of ANP-transfected endothelial cells with quiescent VSMC showed that released ANP from endothelial cells inhibited DNA synthesis in VSMC. Finally, we examined the autocrine effect of direct transfection of ANP vector into VSMC. Transfection of the ANP vector decreased DNA synthesis in VSMC under basal and angiotensin II-stimulated conditions. Similarly, transfection of the ANP vector resulted in a decrease in the PDGF and serum (5%)-stimulated DNA synthesis of VSMC. These results demonstrate that endogenously produced ANP can exert autocrine and paracrine inhibitory effects on endothelial cell and VSMC growth. In vivo gene transfer of ANP may provide us with the opportunity of gene therapy for vascular diseases in which the abnormalities are vasoconstriction and pathological growth.
R Morishita, G H Gibbons, R E Pratt, N Tomita, Y Kaneda, T Ogihara, V J Dzau