Hypertension is a leading risk factor for disease burden worldwide. Vascular contraction and remodeling contribute to the development of hypertension. Glutathione S-transferase P1 (Gstp1) plays several critical roles in both normal and neoplastic cells. In this study, we investigated the effect of Gstp1 on hypertension as well as on vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) contraction and phenotypic switching. We identified the higher level of Gstp1 in arteries and VSMCs from hypertensive rats compared with normotensive rats for the first time. We then developed Adeno-associated virus 9 (AAV9) mediated Gstp1 down-regulation and overexpression in rats and measured rat blood pressure by using the tail-cuff and the carotid catheter method. We found that the blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) rose significantly with Gstp1 down-regulation and reduced apparently after Gstp1 overexpression. Similar results were obtained from the observations of 2-kidney-1-clip renovascular (2K1C) hypertensive rats. Gstp1 did not influence blood pressure of normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats and Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. Further in vitro study indicated that Gstp1 knockdown in SHR-VSMCs promoted cell proliferation, migration, dedifferentiation and contraction, while Gstp1 overexpression showed opposite effects. Results from bioinformatic analysis showed that the Apelin/APLNR system was involved in the effect of Gstp1 on SHR-VSMCs. The rise in blood pressure of SHR induced by Gstp1 knockdown could be reversed by APLNR antagonist F13A. We further found that Gstp1 enhanced the association between APLNR and Nedd4 E3 ubiquitin ligases to induce APLNR ubiquitination degradation. Thus, in the present study, we discovered a novel anti-hypertensive role of Gstp1 in hypertensive rats and provided the experimental basis for designing an effective anti-hypertensive therapeutic strategy.

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