Rac1 Pharmacological Inhibition Rescues Human Endothelial Dysfunction

Albino Carrizzo, Carmine Vecchione, Antonio Damato, Flavio di Nonno, Mariateresa Ambrosio, Franco Pompeo, Enrico Cappello, Luca Capocci, Mariangela Peruzzi, Valentina Valenti, Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Antonino G M Marullo, Silvia Palmerio, Roberto Carnevale, Chiara C Spinelli, Annibale A Puca, Speranza Rubattu, Massimo Volpe, Junichi Sadoshima, Giacomo FratiSebastiano Sciarretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Endothelial dysfunction contributes significantly to the development of vascular diseases. However, a therapy able to reduce this derangement still needs to be identified. We evaluated the effects of pharmacological inhibition of Rac1, a small GTPase protein promoting oxidative stress, in human endothelial dysfunction.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We performed vascular reactivity studies to test the effects of NSC23766, a Rac1 inhibitor, on endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation of saphenous vein segments collected from 85 subjects who had undergone surgery for venous insufficiency and from 11 patients who had undergone peripheral vascular surgery. The endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation of the varicose segments of saphenous veins collected from patients with venous insufficiency was markedly impaired and was also significantly lower than that observed in control nonvaricose vein tracts from the same veins. Rac1 activity, reactive oxygen species levels, and reduced nicotine adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase activity were significantly increased in varicose veins, and NSC23766 was able to significantly improve endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation of dysfunctional saphenous vein portions in a nitric oxide-dependent manner. These effects were paralleled by a significant reduction of NADPH oxidase activity and activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Finally, we further corroborated this data by demonstrating that Rac1 inhibition significantly improves venous endothelial function and reduces NADPH oxidase activity in saphenous vein grafts harvested from patients with vascular diseases undergoing peripheral bypass surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Rac1 pharmacological inhibition rescues endothelial function and reduces oxidative stress in dysfunctional veins. Rac1 inhibition may represent a potential therapeutic intervention to reduce human endothelial dysfunction and subsequently vascular diseases in various clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 28 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminoquinolines/pharmacology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endothelium, Vascular/drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NADP/metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III/metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress/drug effects
  • Pyrimidines/pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism
  • Saphenous Vein/drug effects
  • Vasodilation/drug effects
  • Venous Insufficiency/metabolism
  • Young Adult
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein/antagonists & inhibitors


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