Ang II (angiotensin II) has multiple effects on vascular smooth muscle cells through the modulation of different classes of genes. Using the mRNA differential-display method to investigate gene expression in rat aortic smooth muscle cells in culture in response to 3 h of Ang II stimulation, we observed that Ang II down-regulated the expression of a member of the family of transmembrane receptors for Wnt proteins that was identified as Fzd2 [Fzd (frizzled)-2 receptor]. Fzds are a class of highly conserved genes playing a fundamental role in the developmental processes. In vitro, time course experiments demonstrated that Ang II induced a significant increase (P<0.05) in Fzd2 expression after 30 min, whereas it caused a significant decrease (P<0.05) in Fzd2 expression at 3 h. A similar rapid up-regulation after Ang II stimulation for 30 min was evident for TGFβ1 (transforming growth factor β1; P<0.05). To investigate whether Ang II also modulated Fzd2 expression in vivo, exogenous Ang II was administered to Sprague–Dawley rats (200 ng·kg−1 of body weight·min−1; subcutaneously) for 1 and 4 weeks. Control rats received normal saline. After treatment, systolic blood pressure was significantly higher (P<0.01), whereas plasma renin activity was suppressed (P<0.01) in Ang II- compared with the saline-treated rats. Ang II administration for 1 week did not modify Fzd2 expression in aorta of Ang II-treated rats, whereas Ang II administration for 4 weeks increased Fzd2 mRNA expression (P<0.05) in the tunica media of the aorta, resulting in a positive immunostaining for fibronectin at this time point. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that Ang II modulates Fzd2 expression in aortic smooth muscle cells both in vitro and in vivo.

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