RhoA/Rho-kinase and vascular diseases: What is the link?

Kenia Pedrosa Nunes, Christine S. Rigsby, R. Clinton Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway plays an important role in many pathological conditions. RhoA participates in the regulation of smooth muscle tone and activates many downstream kinases. The best characterized are the serine/threonine kinase isoforms (Rho-kinase or ROCK), ROCKα/ROCK2 and ROCKβ/ROCK1. ROCK is necessary for diverse functions such as local blood flow, arterial/pulmonary blood pressure, airway resistance and intestinal peristalsis. ROCK activation permits actin/myosin interactions and smooth muscle cells contraction by maintaining the activity of myosin light-chain kinase, independently of the free cytosolic calcium level. The sensitization of smooth muscle myofilaments to calcium has been implicated in many pathological states, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, erectile dysfunction, and cancer. The focus of this review is on the involvement of RhoA/Rho-kinase in diseases. We will briefly describe the ROCK isoforms and the role of RhoA/Rho-kinase in the vasculature, before exploring the most recent findings regarding this pathway and various diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3823-3836
Number of pages14
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Rho-kinase
  • RhoA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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