The importance of endothelial cell (EC) autophagy to vascular homeostasis in the context of health and disease is evolving. Earlier, we reported that intact EC autophagy is requisite to maintain shear-stress-induced nitric oxide (NO) generation via glycolysis-dependent purinergic signalling to endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). Here, we illustrate the translational and functional significance of these findings.
Methods and results
First, we assessed translational relevance using older male humans and mice that exhibit blunted EC autophagy and impaired arterial function vs. adult controls. Active hyperaemia evoked by rhythmic handgrip exercise-elevated radial artery shear-rate similarly from baseline in adult and older subjects for 60 min. Compared with baseline, indexes of autophagy initiation, p-eNOSS1177 activation, and NO generation, occurred in radial artery ECs obtained from adult but not older volunteers. Regarding mice, indexes of autophagy and p-eNOSS1177 activation were robust in ECs from adult but not older animals that completed 60-min treadmill-running. Furthermore, 20 dyne • cm2 laminar shear stress × 45-min increased autophagic flux, glycolysis, ATP production, and p-eNOSS1177 in primary arterial ECs obtained from adult but not older mice. Concerning functional relevance, we next questioned whether the inability to initiate EC autophagy, glycolysis, and p-eNOSS1177in vitro precipitates arterial dysfunction ex vivo. Compromised intraluminal flow-mediated vasodilation displayed by arteries from older vs. adult mice was recapitulated in vessels from adult mice by (i) NO synthase inhibition; (ii) acute autophagy impairment using 3-methyladenine (3-MA); (iii) EC Atg3 depletion (iecAtg3KO mice); (iv) purinergic 2Y1-receptor (P2Y1-R) blockade; and (v) germline depletion of P2Y1-Rs. Importantly, P2Y1-R activation using 2-methylthio-ADP (2-Me-ADP) improved vasodilatory capacity in arteries from (i) adult mice treated with 3-MA; (ii) adult iecAtg3KO mice; and (iii) older animals with repressed EC autophagy.
Arterial dysfunction concurrent with pharmacological, genetic, and age-associated EC autophagy compromise is improved by activating P2Y1-Rs.