The control of medial and neointimal growth, in which vascular smooth muscle (VSM) plays a central role, is most important to the development of hypertension and atherosclerosis, respectively. Growth of vascular smooth muscle cells is regulated by a number of factors, including the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO). In addition, NO modulates intracellular thiol redox states and the thiol redox state of the cell influences NO production. We, therefore, examined the nature of the effect of NO on growth of VSM cells and its modulation by cellular glutathione content. Here, we report that NO, either generated by NO donors or synthesized by iNOS in VSM cells, inhibited DNA synthesis and induced apoptosis in this cell type. NO-induced apoptosis was associated with a significant decrease in the intracellular concentration of reduced glutathione and with an increase in the level of the tumor suppressor gene p53 mRNA. Moreover, addition of glutathione monoethylester to the culture restored the level of reduced glutathione in VSM cells, and prevented the NO-induced increase in p53 expression and programmed cell death. Our findings suggest a role for reduced glutathione in protecting VSM cells exposed to NO from apoptosis.
Zhao, Z., Francis, C. E., Welch, G., Loscalzo, J., & Ravid, K. (1997). Reduced glutathione prevents nitric oxide-induced apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research, 1359(2), 143–152. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-4889(97)00093-1