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The purpose of our study was to investigate whether endothelium-derived relaxations induced by store depletion are altered in aging rat thoracic aorta. Vascular responses were measured in aortic segments isolated from young (2–4 month) and old (20–24 month) male Sprague-Dawley rats. In phenylephrine-contracted intact tissues, receptor-mediated and receptor-independent endothelium-derived relaxations were induced by acetylcholine (ACh) and sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) blocker cyclopiazonic acid (CPA), respectively. In addition, CPA-induced changes in intracellular calcium levels were monitored in fura-2-loaded endothelium-denuded tissues. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis were performed to determine the transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) 4 mRNA and protein levels. Endothelial TRPC4 mRNA levels were apparently decreased in aging rats. Immunoblot analysis showed that TRPC4 protein levels significantly decreased in intact aorta from 20- to 24-month-old rats compared to that from 2- to 4-month-old rats. ACh- and CPA-induced endothelium-dependent relaxations decreased in old rat aorta without any change in direct vasodilation induced by sodium nitroprusside. Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) induced by CPA was significantly decreased, whereas sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release was unaffected in endothelium-denuded aging rat aorta. In conclusion, TRPC4 downregulation could be associated with decreased endothelium-dependent vasorelaxations. As endothelial nitric oxide synthase is activated by SOCE-induced caveolar internalization, tracking the expression levels of SERCA, ion channels, and/or associated proteins involved in SOCE would lead to the development of novel therapeutics for age-related vasospastic disorders with dysfunctional endothelium.

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