The critical role of Akt in cardiovascular function

Prasanna Abeyrathna, Yunchao Su

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

265 Scopus citations


Akt kinase, a member of AGC kinases, is important in many cellular functions including proliferation, migration, cell growth and metabolism. There are three known Akt isoforms which play critical and diverse roles in the cardiovascular system. Akt activity is regulated by its upstream regulatory pathways at transcriptional and post-translational levels. Beta-catenin/Tcf-4, GLI1 and Stat-3 are some of few known transcriptional regulators of AKT gene. Threonine 308 and serine 473 are the two critical phosphorylation sites of Akt1. Translocation of Akt to the cell membrane facilitates PDK1 phosphorylation of the threonine site. The serine site is phosphorylated by mTORC2. Ack1, Src, PTK6, TBK1, IKBKE and IKKε are some of the non-canonical pathways which affect the Akt activity. Protein-protein interactions of Akt to actin and Hsp90 increase the Akt activity while Akt binding to other proteins such as CTMP and TRB3 reduces the Akt activity. The action of Akt on its downstream targets determines its function in cardiovascular processes such as cell survival, growth, proliferation, angiogenesis, vasorelaxation, and cell metabolism. Akt promotes cell survival via caspase-9, YAP, Bcl-2, and Bcl-x activities. Inhibition of FoxO proteins by Akt also increases cell survival by transcriptional mechanisms. Akt stimulates cell growth and proliferation through mTORC1. Akt also increases VEGF secretion and mediates eNOS phosphorylation, vasorelaxation and angiogenesis. Akt can increase cellular metabolism through its downstream targets GSK3 and GLUT4. The alterations of Akt signaling play an important role in many cardiovascular pathological processes such as atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, and vascular remodeling. Several Akt inhibitors have been developed and tested as anti-tumor agents. They could be potential novel therapeutics for the cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalVascular Pharmacology
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Akt
  • Signal transduction
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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