Smooth muscle-selective deletion of guanylyl cyclase-A prevents the acute but not chronic effects of ANP on blood pressure

R. Holtwick, M. Gotthardt, B. Skryabin, M. Steinmetz, R. Potthast, B. Zetsche, R. Hammer, J. Herz and M. Kuhn

Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, D-48149 Münster, Germany.
May, 2002



Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is an important regulator of arterial blood pressure. The mechanisms mediating its hypotensive effects are complex and involve the inhibition of the sympathetic and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAA) systems, increased diuresis/natriuresis, vasodilation, and enhanced vascular permeability. In particular, the contribution of the direct vasodilating effect of ANP to the hypotensive actions remains controversial, because variable levels of the ANP receptor, guanylyl cyclase A (GC-A), are expressed in different vascular beds. The objective of our study was to determine whether a selective deletion of GC-A in vascular smooth muscle would affect the hypotensive actions of ANP. We first created a mutant allele of mouse GC-A by flanking a required exon with loxP sequences. Crossing floxed GC-A with SM22-Cre transgene mice expressing Cre recombinase in smooth muscle cells (SMC) resulted in mice in which vascular GC-A mRNA expression was reduced by approximately 80\%. Accordingly, the relaxing effects of ANP on isolated vessels from these mice were abolished; despite this fact, chronic arterial blood pressure of awake SMC GC-A KO mice was normal. Infusion of ANP caused immediate decreases in blood pressure in floxed GC-A but not in SMC GC-A knockout mice. Furthermore, acute vascular volume expansion, which causes release of cardiac ANP, did not affect resting blood pressure of floxed GC-A mice, but rapidly and significantly increased blood pressure of SMC GC-A knockout mice. We conclude that vascular GC-A is dispensable in the chronic and critical in the acute moderation of arterial blood pressure by ANP.