Differential regulation of adipose tissue and vascular inflammatory gene expression by chronic systemic inhibition of NOS in lean and obese rats
OBJECTIVE Obesity is characterized by chronic inflammation of adipose tissue, which contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes. Although nitric oxide (NO) signaling has antiinflammatory effects in the vasculature, whether reduced NO contributes to adipose tissue inflammation is unknown. We sought to determine whether (1) obesity induced by high-fat (HF) diet reduces endothelial nitric oxide signaling in adipose tissue, (2) reduced endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) signaling is sufficient to induce adipose tissue inflammation independent of diet, and (3) increased cGMP signaling can block adipose tissue inflammation induced by HF feeding. METHODS AND RESULTS Relative to mice fed a low-fat diet, an HF diet markedly reduced phospho-eNOS and phospho-vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (phospho-VASP), markers of vascular NO signaling. Expression of proinflammatory cytokines was increased in adipose tissue of eNOS-/- mice. Conversely, enhancement of signaling downstream of NO by phosphodiesterase-5 inhibition using sildenafil attenuated HF-induced proinflammatory cytokine expression and the recruitment of macrophages into adipose tissue. Finally, we implicate a role for VASP, a downstream mediator of NO-cGMP signaling in mediating eNOS-induced antiinflammatory effects because VASP-/- mice recapitulated the proinflammatory phenotype displayed by eNOS-/- mice. CONCLUSIONS These results imply a physiological role for endothelial NO to limit obesity-associated inflammation in adipose tissue and hence identify the NO-cGMP-VASP pathway as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of diabetes.