α1AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Mediates Vascular Protective Effects of Exercise
Objective—We investigated whether AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) may be involved in the signaling processes leading to exercise-mediated vascular protection.
Methods and Results—The effects of voluntary exercise on AMPK activity, endothelial NO synthase expression and phosphorylation, vascular reactive oxygen species formation, and cell senescence were tested in α1AMPK knockout and corresponding wild-type mice. Exercise significantly improved endothelial function, and increased plasma nitrite production in wild-type mice, associated with an activation of aortic AMPK assessed by its phosphorylation at threonine 172. In addition, regular physical activity resulted in an upregulation of endothelial NO synthase protein, serine 1177 endothelial NO synthase phosphorylation, and an increase of circulating Tie-2+Sca-1+Flk-1+ myeloid progenitor cells. All these changes were absent after α1AMPK deletion. In addition, exercise increased the expression of important regulators of the antioxidative defense including heme oxygenase-1 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α, decreased aortic reactive oxygen species levels, and prevented endothelial cell senescence in an α1AMPK-dependent manner.
Conclusions—Intact α1AMPK signaling is required for the signaling events leading to the manifestation of vascular protective effects during exercise. Pharmacological AMPK activation might be a novel approach in the near future to simulate the beneficial vascular effects of physical activity.
- Received March 30, 2011.
- Accepted April 13, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.