The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Compound 21 (C21), a selective AT2R agonist, on the prevention of endothelial dysfunction, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and arterial stiffness associated with diet-induced obesity (DIO).
Five-week-old male C57BL/6J mice were fed a standard (Chow) or high-fat diet (HF) for 6 weeks. Half of the animals of each group were simultaneously treated with C21 (1 mg/kg/day, in the drinking water), generating four groups: Chow C, Chow C21, HF C, and HF C21. Vascular function and mechanical properties were determined in the abdominal aorta. To evaluate ECM remodeling, collagen deposition and TGF-β1 concentrations were determined in the abdominal aorta and the activity of metalloproteinases (MMP) 2 and 9 was analyzed in the plasma. Abdominal aortas from HF C mice showed endothelial dysfunction as well as enhanced contractile but reduced relaxant responses to Ang II. This effect was abrogated with C21 treatment by preserving NO availability. A left-shift in the tension–stretch relationship, paralleled by an augmented β-index (marker of intrinsic arterial stiffness), and enhanced collagen deposition and MMP-2/-9 activities were also detected in HF mice. However, when treated with C21, HF mice exhibited lower TGF-β1 levels in abdominal aortas together with reduced MMP activities and collagen deposition compared with HF C mice.
In conclusion, these data demonstrate that AT2R stimulation by C21 in obesity preserves NO availability and prevents unhealthy vascular remodeling, thus protecting the abdominal aorta in HF mice against the development of endothelial dysfunction, ECM remodeling and arterial stiffness.