Exercise can prevent endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction and atherosclerosis even in the absence of improvements in plasma lipids. However, the mechanisms responsible for these effects are incompletely understood. In this study we examined in mice whether an acute bout of exercise activates enzymes that could prevent EC dysfunction, such as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). We also examined whether exercise alters known regulators of these enzymes. C57BL/6 mice underwent a single bout of exhaustive treadmill exercise after which their aortas were analyzed for activation of AMPK, AMPK regulatory proteins, eNOS and various enzymes that, like AMPK, activate eNOS. We found that such exercise acutely activates both AMPK and eNOS in the whole aorta, and that the magnitude of these effects correlated with both the distance run and activation of the AMPK regulatory proteins SIRT1-LKB1 and CaMKKβ. In contrast, Akt, PKA, PKG, and Src, other kinases known to activate eNOS, were unaffected. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that AMPK and eNOS were both activated in the ECs of the aorta. This study provides the first evidence that an acute bout of exercise activates AMPK and eNOS in the endothelium of the aorta. The results also suggest that AMPK likely is the principal activator of eNOS in this setting and that its own activation may be mediated by both SIRT1-LKB1 and CaMKKβ.
- Copyright © 2010, American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology