Obesity-induced vascular dysfunction and arterial stiffening requires endothelial cell arginase 1

Anil Bhatta, Lin Yao, Zhimin Xu, Haroldo A. Toque, Jijun Chen, Reem T. Atawia, Abdelrahman Y. Fouda, Zsolt Bagi, Rudolf Lucas, Ruth B. Caldwell, Robert W. Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Aims Elevation of arginase activity has been linked to vascular dysfunction in diabetes and hypertension by a mechanism involving decreased nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability due to L-arginine depletion. Excessive arginase activity also can drive L-arginine metabolism towards the production of ornithine, polyamines, and proline, promoting proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells and collagen formation, leading to perivascular fibrosis. We hypothesized that there is a specific involvement of arginase 1 expression within the vascular endothelial cells in this pathology. Methods and results To test this proposition, we used models of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Studies were performed using wild type (WT), endothelial-specific arginase 1 knockout (EC-A1-/-) and littermate controls(A1con) mice fed high fat-high sucrose (HFHS) or normal diet (ND) for 6 months and isolated vessels exposed to palmitate-high glucose (PA/HG) media. Some WT mice or isolated vessels were treated with an arginase inhibitor, ABH [2-(S)- amino-6-boronohexanoic acid. In WT mice, the HFHS diet promoted increases in body weight, fasting blood glucose, and post-prandial insulin levels along with arterial stiffening and fibrosis, elevated blood pressure, decreased plasma levels of L-arginine, and elevated L-ornithine. The HFHS diet or PA/HG treatment also induced increases in vascular arginase activity along with oxidative stress, reduced vascular NO levels, and impaired endothelialdependent vasorelaxation. All of these effects except obesity and hypercholesterolemia were prevented or significantly reduced by endothelial-specific deletion of arginase 1 or ABH treatment. Conclusion Vascular dysfunctions in diet-induced obesity are prevented by deletion of arginase 1 in vascular endothelial cells or arginase inhibition. These findings indicate that upregulation of arginase 1 expression/activity in vascular endothelial cells has an integral role in diet-induced cardiovascular dysfunction and metabolic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1664-1676
Number of pages13
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Arginase
  • Diabetes
  • Fibrosis
  • Obesity
  • Vascular dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Obesity-induced vascular dysfunction and arterial stiffening requires endothelial cell arginase 1'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this