Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including myocardial infarction (MI) and peripheral or coronary artery disease (PAD, CAD), remains the number one killer of individuals in the United States and worldwide, accounting for nearly 18 million (>30%) global deaths annually. Despite considerable basic science and clinical investigation aimed at identifying key etiologic components of and potential therapeutic targets for CVD, the number of individuals afflicted with these dreaded diseases continues to rise. Of the many biochemical, molecular, and cellular elements and processes characterized to date that have potential to control foundational facets of CVD, the multifaceted cyclic nucleotide pathways continue to be of primary basic science and clinical interest. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP) and their plethora of downstream protein kinase effectors serve ubiquitous roles not only in cardiovascular homeostasis but also in the pathogenesis of CVD. Already a major target for clinical pharmacotherapy for CVD as well as other pathologies, novel and potentially clinically appealing actions of cyclic nucleotides and their downstream targets are still being discovered. With this in mind, this review article focuses on our current state of knowledge of the cyclic nucleotide-driven serine (Ser)/threonine (Thr) protein kinases in CVD with particular emphasis on cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). Attention is given to the regulatory interactions of these kinases with inflammatory components including interleukin 6 signals, with G protein-coupled receptor and growth factor signals, and with growth and synthetic transcriptional platforms underlying CVD pathogenesis. This article concludes with a brief discussion of potential future directions and highlights the importance for continued basic science and clinical study of cyclic nucleotide-directed protein kinases as emerging and crucial controllers of cardiac and vascular disease pathologies.
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