Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has recently been the focus of attention due to its angiogenic effects, which are similar to those of vascular endothelial growth factor (VIEGF); because of these effects, HGF is considered to be a novel therapeutic agent against vascular disorders, including atherosclerotic angiopathies. Although nitric oxide (NO), which is derived from vascular endothelial cells (ECs), is also involved in angiogenesis, little is known regarding the interactions between HGF and NO. We therefore examined the effects of HGF on NO production as well as endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) phosphorylation, and investigated their mechanisms. In bovine aortic ECs, HGF induced a rapid (5 min) increase of NO production measured by diaminofluorescein-2 diacetate. Moreover, HGF rapidly (2.5 min) stimulated eNOS phosphorylation (Ser -1179) as determined by Western immunoblot analyses. Both of these effects were almost completely suppressed by the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002, and were partially suppressed by the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase 1/2 inhibitor U0126. HGF also stimulated Akt phosphorylation (Ser-473), which was completely suppressed by LY294002 and was partially suppressed by U0126. Moreover, HGF stimulated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation (Thr - 202/Tyr - 204), which was completely suppressed by U0126 and was partially suppressed by LY294002. Taken together, these results indicate that HGF not only phosphorylates eNOS through the PI3K/Akt pathway, but also partially through the MAPK pathway, and that these two pathways may interact. Compared with VEGF, HGF was more potent in both NO production and eNOS phosphorylation. Our study thus demonstrates a novel activity of HGF - the stimulation of NO production - which occurs via eNOS phosphorylation that may in turn be mediated by cross-talk between the PI3K/Akt and MAPK pathways.
- Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
- Hepatocyte growth factor
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase
- Nitric oxide
- Phosphoinositide 3-kinase