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6.  Riociguat Reduces Infarct Size and Post-Infarct Heart Failure in Mouse Hearts: Insights from MRI/PET Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83910.
Aim
Stimulation of the nitric oxide (NO) – soluble guanylate (sGC) - protein kinase G (PKG) pathway confers protection against acute ischaemia/reperfusion injury, but more chronic effects in reducing post-myocardial infarction (MI) heart failure are less defined. The aim of this study was to not only determine whether the sGC stimulator riociguat reduces infarct size but also whether it protects against the development of post-MI heart failure.
Methods and Results
Mice were subjected to 30 min ischaemia via ligation of the left main coronary artery to induce MI and either placebo or riociguat (1.2 µmol/l) were given as a bolus 5 min before and 5 min after onset of reperfusion. After 24 hours, both, late gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (LGE-MRI) and 18F-FDG-positron emission tomography (PET) were performed to determine infarct size. In the riociguat-treated mice, the resulting infarct size was smaller (8.5±2.5% of total LV mass vs. 21.8%±1.7%. in controls, p = 0.005) and LV systolic function analysed by MRI was better preserved (60.1%±3.4% of preischaemic vs. 44.2%±3.1% in controls, p = 0.005). After 28 days, LV systolic function by echocardiography treated group was still better preserved (63.5%±3.2% vs. 48.2%±2.2% in control, p = 0.004).
Conclusion
Taken together, mice treated acutely at the onset of reperfusion with the sGC stimulator riociguat have smaller infarct size and better long-term preservation of LV systolic function. These findings suggest that sGC stimulation during reperfusion therapy may be a powerful therapeutic treatment strategy for preventing post-MI heart failure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083910
PMCID: PMC3877128  PMID: 24391843
7.  The Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Activator BAY 58-2667 Protects against Morbidity and Mortality in Endotoxic Shock by Recoupling Organ Systems 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72155.
Sepsis and septic shock are associated with high mortality rates and the majority of sepsis patients die due to complications of multiple organ failure (MOF). The cyclic GMP (cGMP) producing enzyme soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is crucially involved in the regulation of (micro)vascular homeostasis, cardiac function and, consequently, organ function. However, it can become inactivated when exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS). The resulting heme-free sGC can be reactivated by the heme- and nitric oxide (NO)-independent sGC activator BAY 58-2667 (Cinaciguat). We report that late (+8 h) post-treatment with BAY 58-2667 in a mouse model can protect against lethal endotoxic shock. Protection was associated with reduced hypothermia, circulating IL-6 levels, cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and mortality. In contrast to BAY 58-2667, the sGC stimulator BAY 41-2272 and the phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor Sildenafil did not have any beneficial effect on survival, emphasizing the importance of the selectivity of BAY 58-2667 for diseased vessels and tissues. Hemodynamic parameters (blood pressure and heart rate) were decreased, and linear and nonlinear indices of blood pressure variability, reflective for (un)coupling of the communication between the autonomic nervous system and the heart, were improved after late protective treatment with BAY 58-2667. In conclusion, our results demonstrate the pivotal role of the NO/sGC axis in endotoxic shock. Stabilization of sGC function with BAY 58-2667 can prevent mortality when given in the correct treatment window, which probably depends on the dynamics of the heme-free sGC pool, in turn influenced by oxidative stress. We speculate that, considering the central role of sGC signaling in many pathways required for maintenance of (micro)circulatory homeostasis, BAY 58-2667 supports organ function by recoupling inter-organ communication pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072155
PMCID: PMC3756074  PMID: 24015214
8.  The Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase Activator Bay 58-2667 Selectively Limits Cardiomyocyte Hypertrophy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e44481.
Background
Although evidence now suggests cGMP is a negative regulator of cardiac hypertrophy, the direct consequences of the soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) activator BAY 58-2667 on cardiac remodeling, independent of changes in hemodynamic load, has not been investigated. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the NO•-independent sGC activator BAY 58-2667 inhibits cardiomyocyte hypertrophy in vitro. Concomitant impact of BAY 58-2667 on cardiac fibroblast proliferation, and insights into potential mechanisms of action, were also sought. Results were compared to the sGC stimulator BAY 41-2272.
Methods
Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were incubated with endothelin-1 (ET1, 60nmol/L) in the presence and absence of BAY 41-2272 and BAY 58-2667 (0.01–0.3 µmol/L). Hypertrophic responses and its triggers, as well as cGMP signaling, were determined. The impact of both sGC ligands on basal and stimulated cardiac fibroblast proliferation in vitro was also determined.
Results
We now demonstrate that BAY 58-2667 (0.01–0.3 µmol/L) elicited concentration-dependent antihypertrophic actions, inhibiting ET1-mediated increases in cardiomyocyte 2D area and de novo protein synthesis, as well as suppressing ET1-induced cardiomyocyte superoxide generation. This was accompanied by potent increases in cardiomyocyte cGMP accumulation and activity of its downstream signal, vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP), without elevating cardiomyocyte cAMP. In contrast, submicromolar concentrations of BAY 58-2667 had no effect on basal or stimulated cardiac fibroblast proliferation. Indeed, only at concentrations ≥10 µmol/L was inhibition of cardiac fibrosis seen in vitro. The effects of BAY 58-2667 in both cell types were mimicked by BAY 41-2272.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that BAY 58-2667 elicits protective, cardiomyocyte-selective effects in vitro. These actions are associated with sGC activation and are evident in the absence of confounding hemodynamic factors, at low (submicromolar) concentrations. Thus this distinctive sGC ligand may potentially represent an alternative therapeutic approach for limiting myocardial hypertrophy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044481
PMCID: PMC3492396  PMID: 23144773
9.  Direct sGC Activation Bypasses NO Scavenging Reactions of Intravascular Free Oxy-Hemoglobin and Limits Vasoconstriction 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;19(18):2232-2243.
Abstract
Aims: Hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOC) provide a potential alternative to red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. Their clinical application has been limited by adverse effects, in large part thought to be mediated by the intravascular scavenging of the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO) by cell-free plasma oxy-hemoglobin. Free hemoglobin may also cause endothelial dysfunction and platelet activation in hemolytic diseases and after transfusion of aged stored RBCs. The new soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator Bay 41-8543 and sGC activator Bay 60-2770 directly modulate sGC, independent of NO bioavailability, providing a potential therapeutic mechanism to bypass hemoglobin-mediated NO inactivation. Results: Infusions of human hemoglobin solutions and the HBOC Oxyglobin into rats produced a severe hypertensive response, even at low plasma heme concentrations approaching 10 μM. These reactions were only observed for ferrous oxy-hemoglobin and not analogs that do not rapidly scavenge NO. Infusions of L-NG-Nitroarginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a competitive NO synthase inhibitor, after hemoglobin infusion did not produce additive vasoconstriction, suggesting that vasoconstriction is related to scavenging of vascular NO. Open-chest hemodynamic studies confirmed that hypertension occurred secondary to direct effects on increasing vascular resistance, with limited negative cardiac inotropic effects. Intravascular hemoglobin reduced the vasodilatory potency of sodium nitroprusside (SNP) and sildenafil, but had no effect on vasodilatation by direct NO-independent activation of sGC by BAY 41-8543 and BAY 60-2770. Innovation and Conclusion: These data suggest that both sGC stimulators and sGC activators could be used to restore cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent vasodilation in conditions where cell-free plasma hemoglobin is sufficient to inhibit endogenous NO signaling. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 2232–2243.
doi:10.1089/ars.2013.5181
PMCID: PMC3869448  PMID: 23697678
10.  Soluble Guanylate Cyclase as an Emerging Therapeutic Target in Cardiopulmonary Disease 
Circulation  2011;123(20):2263-2273.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.981738
PMCID: PMC3103045  PMID: 21606405
cardiovascular diseases; hypertension; pulmonary; soluble guanylate cyclase; nitric oxide; riociguat
12.  Fluorescence Dequenching Makes Haem-Free Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Detectable in Living Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23596.
In cardiovascular disease, the protective NO/sGC/cGMP signalling-pathway is impaired due to a decreased pool of NO-sensitive haem-containing sGC accompanied by a reciprocal increase in NO-insensitive haem-free sGC. However, no direct method to detect cellular haem-free sGC other than its activation by the new therapeutic class of haem mimetics, such as BAY 58-2667, is available. Here we show that fluorescence dequenching, based on the interaction of the optical active prosthetic haem group and the attached biarsenical fluorophor FlAsH can be used to detect changes in cellular sGC haem status. The partly overlap of the emission spectrum of haem and FlAsH allows energy transfer from the fluorophore to the haem which reduces the intensity of FlAsH fluorescence. Loss of the prosthetic group, e.g. by oxidative stress or by replacement with the haem mimetic BAY 58-2667, prevented the energy transfer resulting in increased fluorescence. Haem loss was corroborated by an observed decrease in NO-induced sGC activity, reduced sGC protein levels, and an increased effect of BAY 58-2667. The use of a haem-free sGC mutant and a biarsenical dye that was not quenched by haem as controls further validated that the increase in fluorescence was due to the loss of the prosthetic haem group. The present approach is based on the cellular expression of an engineered sGC variant limiting is applicability to recombinant expression systems. Nevertheless, it allows to monitor sGC's redox regulation in living cells and future enhancements might be able to extend this approach to in vivo conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023596
PMCID: PMC3157391  PMID: 21858179
24.  Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Stimulation Prevents Fibrotic Tissue Remodeling and Improves Survival in Salt-Sensitive Dahl Rats 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21853.
Background
A direct pharmacological stimulation of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is an emerging therapeutic approach to the management of various cardiovascular disorders associated with endothelial dysfunction. Novel sGC stimulators, including riociguat (BAY 63-2521), have a dual mode of action: They sensitize sGC to endogenously produced nitric oxide (NO) and also directly stimulate sGC independently of NO. Little is known about their effects on tissue remodeling and degeneration and survival in experimental malignant hypertension.
Methods and Results
Mortality, hemodynamics and biomarkers of tissue remodeling and degeneration were assessed in Dahl salt-sensitive rats maintained on a high salt diet and treated with riociguat (3 or 10 mg/kg/d) for 14 weeks. Riociguat markedly attenuated systemic hypertension, improved systolic heart function and increased survival from 33% to 85%. Histological examination of the heart and kidneys revealed that riociguat significantly ameliorated fibrotic tissue remodeling and degeneration. Correspondingly, mRNA expression of the pro-fibrotic biomarkers osteopontin (OPN), tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in the myocardium and the renal cortex was attenuated by riociguat. In addition, riociguat reduced plasma and urinary levels of OPN, TIMP-1, and PAI-1.
Conclusions
Stimulation of sGC by riociguat markedly improves survival and attenuates systemic hypertension and systolic dysfunction, as well as fibrotic tissue remodeling in the myocardium and the renal cortex in a rodent model of pressure and volume overload. These findings suggest a therapeutic potential of sGC stimulators in diseases associated with impaired cardiovascular and renal functions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021853
PMCID: PMC3138745  PMID: 21789188

Results 1-25 (53)