Angiotensin receptor blockers improve insulin signaling and prevent microvascular rarefaction in the skeletal muscle of spontaneously hypertensive rats

Damiano Rizzoni, Evasio Pasini, Vincenzo Flati, Luigi F. Rodella, Silvia Paiardi, Deodato Assanelli, Carolina De Ciuceis, Enzo Porteri, Gianluca Em Boari, Rita Rezzani, Silvia Speca, Gaia Favero, Stefano Martinotti, Elena Toniato, Caterina Platto, Enrico Agabiti-Rosei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Spontaneously hypertensive rats are an example of an animal model of genetic hypertension with insulin resistance. The aim of this study was to investigate insulin signaling in the heart and in the skeletal muscle of spontaneously hypertensive rats, as well as to evaluate the effects of renin-angiotensin system blockade. DESIGN AND METHODS: We investigated eight untreated spontaneously hypertensive rats of 12 weeks of age and eight age-matched normotensive Wistar-Kyoto controls. In addition, eight spontaneously hypertensive rats were treated for 8 weeks with the angiotensin receptor blocker olmesartan, and eight spontaneously hypertensive rats with the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril. The heart and a skeletal muscle (quadriceps femoris) were promptly dissected and frozen. Insulin signaling was evaluated by Western blot analysis of involved proteins; in addition, microvessel density was indirectly evaluated by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Blood pressure values were normalized by both olmesartan and enalapril. In the heart, no statistically significant difference in the expression of proteins involved in insulin signaling was observed between untreated spontaneously hypertensive rats and Wistar-Kyoto controls. On the contrary, in the skeletal muscle of untreated spontaneously hypertensive rats, we noted a significant reduction of insulin receptors, of insulin-receptor substrate-1, and of phosphorylated-mammalian target of rapamycin. The treatment with olmesartan normalized insulin signaling, including expression of glucose transporter-4, whereas the treatment with enalapril was ineffective for the insulin receptor and less effective than olmesartan on the insulin-receptor substrate-1, phosphorylated-mammalian target of rapamycin and glucose transporter-4. There was a significant reduction in microvessel density in the skeletal muscle of spontaneously hypertensive rats compared with Wistar-Kyoto controls, and this was completely prevented by both olmesartan and enalapril. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that changes in insulin signaling occur in the skeletal muscle but not in the heart of untreated spontaneously hypertensive rats. In the skeletal muscle, insulin signaling was restored by olmesartan, whereas enalapril was less effective. Effective antihypertensive treatment with olmesartan or enalapril was associated with prevention of microvascular rarefaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1601
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Enalapril
  • Hypertension
  • Insulin
  • Microcirculation
  • Olmesartan
  • Small vessels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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