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1. The 1,4-dihydropyridine nifedipine is frequently used in the therapy of hypertension and heart failure. In addition, nifedipine has been shown to exert distinct anti-arteriosclerotic effects both in experimental animal models and in patients. In the present study we have investigated the hypothesis that the latter effect of this class of drugs is mediated by an interference with the expression of pro-arteriosclerotic gene products in the vessel wall. Moreover, to elucidate as to whether nifedipine acts via L-type calcium channel blockade, its effects were compared to those of another dihydropyridine, Bay w 9798, which has no calcium-antagonistic properties in concentrations up to 10 microM as verified by superfusion bioassay. 2. Both, nifedipine and Bay w 9798, in concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 1 microM, augmented the interleukin-1beta/tumour necrosis factor-alpha (IL-1beta/TNF-alpha)-induced expression of the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in rat aortic cultured smooth muscle cells (raSMC) 2 - 3 fold, as judged by RT - PCR and Western blot analyses. 3. In contrast, cytokine-induced mRNA expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) in these cells was down-regulated by more than 60% in the presence of both dihydropyridines, as judged by RT - PCR and Northern blot analyses. 4. Nuclear run-on assays and incubation with the transcription-terminating drug actinomycin D revealed that both drugs acted at the level of mRNA synthesis rather than stability. 5. These findings suggest that 1,4-dihydropyridines such as nifedipine affect the expression of both potentially pro-arteriosclerotic (MCP-1) and anti-arteriosclerotic (iNOS) gene products in the vessel wall at the level of transcription, and that these effects are unrelated to their calcium channel-blocking properties.


M Cattaruzza, R Wachter, A H Wagner, M Hecker. Modulation by dihydropyridine-type calcium channel antagonists of cytokine-inducible gene expression in vascular smooth muscle cells. British journal of pharmacology. 2000 Mar;129(6):1155-62

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PMID: 10725264

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