Cardiac pressure load stimulates hypertrophy, often leading to chamber dilation and dysfunction. ROS contribute to this process. Here we show that uncoupling of nitric oxide synthase-3 (NOS3plays a major role in pressure load-induced myocardial ROS and consequent chamber remodeling/hypertrophy. Chronic transverse aortic constriction (TAC; for 3 and 9 weeks) in control mice induced marked cardiac hypertrophy, dilation, and dysfunction. Mice lacking NOS3 displayed modest and concentric hypertrophy to TAC with preserved function. NOS3-/- TAC hearts developed less fibrosis, myocyte hypertrophy, and fetal gene re-expression (B-natriuretic peptide and α-skeletal actin). ROS, nitrotyrosine, and gelatinase (MMP-2 and MMP-9) zymogen activity markedly increased in control TAC, but not in NOS3-/- TAC, hearts. TAC induced NOS3 uncoupling in the heart, reflected by reduced NOS3 dimer and tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), increased NOS3-dependent generation of ROS, and lowered Ca2+-dependent NOS activity. Cotreatment with BH4 prevented NOS3 uncoupling and inhibited ROS, resulting in concentric nondilated hypertrophy. Mice given the antioxidant tetrahydroneopterin as a control did not display changes in TAC response. Thus, pressure overload triggers NOS3 uncoupling as a prominent source of myocardial ROS that contribute to dilatory remodeling and cardiac dysfunction. Reversal of this process by BH4 suggests a potential treatment to ameliorate the pathophysiology of chronic pressure-induced hypertrophy.
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