Extracellular PBEF/NAMPT/visfatin activates pro-inflammatory signalling in human vascular smooth muscle cells through nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase activity.
AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Extracellular pre-B cell colony-enhancing factor/nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase/visfatin (ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin) is an adipocytokine, whose circulating levels are enhanced in metabolic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus and obesity. Here, we explored the ability of ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin to promote vascular inflammation, as a condition closely related to atherothrombotic diseases. We specifically studied the ability of PBEF/NAMPT/visfatin to directly activate pathways leading to inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) induction in cultured human aortic smooth muscle cells, as well as the mechanisms involved. METHODS: iNOS levels and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 activity were determined by western blotting. Nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB activity was assessed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. RESULTS: ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin (10-250 ng/ml) induced iNOS in a concentration-dependent manner. At a submaximal concentration (100 ng/ml), ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin time-dependently enhanced iNOS levels up to 18 h after stimulation. Over this time period, ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin elicited a sustained activation of NF-kappaB and triggered a biphasic ERK 1/2 activation. By using the respective ERK 1/2 and NF-kappaB inhibitors, PD98059 and pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, we established that iNOS induction by ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin required the consecutive upstream activation of ERK 1/2 and NF-kappaB. The pro-inflammatory action of ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin was not prevented by insulin receptor blockade. However, exogenous nicotinamide mononucleotide, the product of NAMPT activity, mimicked NF-kappaB activation and iNOS induction by ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin, while the NAMPT inhibitor APO866 prevented the effects of ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin on iNOS and NF-kappaB. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Through its intrinsic NAMPT activity, ePBEF/NAMPT/visfatin appears to be a direct contributor to vascular inflammation, a key feature of atherothrombotic diseases linked to metabolic disorders.