The nodlike receptor family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is a critical player in vascular pathology as it regulates caspase-1-mediated interleukin (IL)-1β processing. Physical activity ameliorates obesity-induced inflammation and vascular dysfunction, but the mechanisms responsible for these positive changes are incompletely understood. Here, the protective effect of physical activity on the inflammasome-associated vascular dysfunction in obesity and its putative mechanisms were investigated.
Mice were fed a control low-fat diet (LFD) or a high-fat diet (HFD; 45% of calories from fat) and provided with running wheel access (LF-RUN or HF-RUN) or denied wheel access for our sedentary condition (LF-SED or HF-SED). The NLRP3 inflammasome-associated pathway, including NLRP3, caspase-1, and IL-1β, in mice aorta was examined by RT-qPCR and FLICA and DAB staining. The protein expression of zonula occluden-1 (ZO-1), ZO-2, adiponectin (APN), and adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR1) in aortic endothelial cells was determined by immunofluorescence double staining. Intracellular reactive oxidative stress and nitric oxide (NO) production were monitored with fluorescence probes, dihydroethidium, and diaminofluorecein.
HFD increased caspase-1 and IL-1β at mRNA and protein levels in endothelial cells of the aorta, and this was attenuated by voluntary running. HFD decreased ZO-1 and ZO-2 expression and reduced APN and AdipoR1 signaling; these were restored by running. The elevated intracellular superoxide (O2.-) production observed in HF-SED was ameliorated in HF-RUN. Finally, HF-RUN improved NO production in the aorta compared with HF-SED.
Our findings suggest that voluntary running ameliorates mechanisms associated with vascular dysfunction by suppressing NLRP3 inflammasome, improving NO production, and reducing oxidative stress. Such benefits of physical activity may be, at least in part, associated with APN–AdipoR1 signaling and tight junction protein expression.