AVFQHNCQE is an antihypertensive nonapeptide obtained from a chicken foot protein hydrolysate. The present study aims to investigate the mechanisms involved in its blood pressure (BP)-lowering effect. Male (17–20 weeks old) spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) were used in this study. Rats were divided into two groups and orally administered water or 10 mg/kg body weight (bw) AVFQHNCQE. One hour post-administration, animals of both groups were intra-peritoneally treated with 1 mL of saline or with 1 mL of saline containing 30 mg/kg bw Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, or with 1 mL of saline containing 5 mg/kg bw indomethacin, which is an inhibitor of prostacyclin synthesis (n
= 6 per group). Systolic BP was recorded before oral administration and six hours after oral administration. In an additional experiment, SHR were administered water or 10 mg/kg bw AVFQHNCQE (n
= 6 per group) and sacrificed six hours post-administration to study the mechanisms underlying the peptide anti-hypertensive effect. Moreover, the relaxation caused by AVFQHNCQE in isolated aortic rings from Sprague-Dawley rats was evaluated. The BP-lowering effect of the peptide was not changed after indomethacin administration but was completely abolished by L-NAME, which demonstrates that its anti-hypertensive effect is mediated by changes in endothelium-derived NO availability. In addition, AVFQHNCQE administration downregulated aortic gene expression of the vasoconstrictor factor endothelin-1 and the endothelial major free radical producer NADPH. Moreover, while no changes in plasma ACE activity were observed after its administration, liver GSH levels were higher in the peptide-treated group than in the water group, which demonstrates that AVFQHNCQE presents antioxidant properties.
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