Glycocalyx-targeted therapy ameliorates age-related arterial dysfunction

Daniel R. Machin, Daniel W. Trott, Venkateswara R. Gogulamudi, Md. Torikul Islam, Samuel I. Bloom, Hans Vink, Lisa A. Lesniewski & Anthony J. Donato


Advanced age is accompanied by arterial dysfunction, as well as a diminished glycocalyx, which may be linked to reduced high molecular weight–hyaluronan (HMW-HA) synthesis. However, the impact of glycocalyx deterioration in age-related arterial dysfunction is unknown. We sought to determine if manipulations in glycocalyx properties would alter arterial function. Tamoxifen-induced hyaluronan synthase 2 (Has2) reduction was used to decrease glycocalyx properties. Three weeks post-tamoxifen treatment, glycocalyx thickness was lower in Has2 knockout compared to wild-type mice (P<0.05). Has2 reduction induced arterial dysfunction, demonstrated by impaired endothelium-dependent dilation (EDD) and elevated aortic stiffness (P<0.05). To augment glycocalyx properties, old mice received 10 weeks of a glycocalyx-targeted therapy via Endocalyx™ (old+ECX), which contains HMW-HA and other glycocalyx components. Compared to old control mice, glycocalyx properties and EDD were augmented, and aortic stiffness decreased in old+ECX mice (P<0.05). Old+ECX mice had a more youthful aortic phenotype, demonstrated by lower collagen content and higher elastin content than old control mice (P<0.05). Functional outcomes were repeated in old mice that underwent a diet supplemented solely with HMW-HA (old+HA). Compared to old controls, glycocalyx properties and EDD were augmented, and aortic stiffness was lower in old+HA mice (P<0.05). We did not observe any differences between old+HA and old+ECX mice (P>0.05). Has2 reduction phenocopies age-related arterial dysfunction, while 10 weeks of glycocalyx-targeted therapy that restores the glycocalyx also ameliorates age-related arterial dysfunction. These findings suggest that the glycocalyx may be a viable therapeutic target to ameliorate age-related arterial dysfunction.