PTH-related protein (PTHrP) and its receptor are expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells and are believed to participate in the local regulation of vascular tone. To explore the function of locally produced PTHrP in vascular smooth muscle in vivo, we developed transgenic mice that overexpress PTHrP in smooth muscle using a smooth muscle α-actin promoter to direct expression of the transgene. In the PTHrP-overexpressing mice, messenger RNA expression was mainly restricted to smooth muscle-containing tissues. Several founders also expressed the transgene in bone anti heart and exhibited striking abnormalities in the development of these tissues. In PTHrP- overexpressing mice, blood pressure was significantly lower than that in wild-type controls (121 ± 3 vs. 135 ± 2 mm Hg; P < 0.01). Moreover, the magnitude of the vasorelaxant response to iv infusions of PTHrP-(1-34)NH2 was significantly attenuated in the transgenic animals. A similar desensitization to PTHrP was observed in aortic ring and portal vein preparations. Surprisingly, PTHrP-overexpressing mice were also significantly less responsive to the-hypotensive action of infused acetylcholine in vivo and to the relaxant actions of acetylcholine on aortic vessel preparations in vitro. In summary, we have successfully targeted overexpression of PTHrP to the smooth muscle of transgenic mice. When expressed in its normal autocrine/paracrine setting, PTHrP lowers systemic blood pressure and decreases vascular responsiveness to further relaxation by PTHrP and other endothelium-dependent vasorelaxants such as acetylcholine. We postulate that the heterologous desensitization to acetylcholine-induced relaxation in PTHrP-overexpressing blood vessels involves desensitization of second messenger/effector signaling pathways common to PTHrP and acetylcholine.
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