Central to the development of diabetic macro- and microvascular disease is endothelial dysfunction, which appears well before any clinical sign but, importantly, is potentially reversible. We previously demonstrated that hyperglycemia activates nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) in conduit and medium-sized resistance arteries and that NFAT blockade abolishes diabetes-driven aggravation of atherosclerosis. In this study, we test whether NFAT plays a role in the development of endothelial dysfunction in diabetes. NFAT-dependent transcriptional activity was elevated in skin microvessels of diabetic Akita (Ins2+/−) mice when compared with nondiabetic littermates. Treatment of diabetic mice with the NFAT blocker A-285222 reduced NFATc3 nuclear accumulation and NFAT-luciferase transcriptional activity in skin microvessels, resulting in improved microvascular function, as assessed by laser Doppler imaging and iontophoresis of acetylcholine and localized heating. This improvement was abolished by pretreatment with the nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor l–NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester, while iontophoresis of the NO donor sodium nitroprusside eliminated the observed differences. A-285222 treatment enhanced dermis endothelial NO synthase expression and plasma NO levels of diabetic mice. It also prevented induction of inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and osteopontin, lowered plasma endothelin-1 and blood pressure, and improved mouse survival without affecting blood glucose. In vivo inhibition of NFAT may represent a novel therapeutic modality to preserve endothelial function in diabetes.
- Received August 15, 2018.
- Accepted November 30, 2019.
- © 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.