Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and oxidative stress are critical to embryonic coronary artery development. Maternal diabetes increases oxidative stress and reduces eNOS activity in the fetal heart. Sapropterin (Kuvan®) is an orally active, synthetic form of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and a co-factor for eNOS with antioxidant properties. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of sapropterin on fetal coronary artery development during pregestational diabetes in mice. Diabetes was induced by streptozotocin to adult female C57BL/6 mice. Sapropterin (10 mg/kg/day) was orally administered to pregnant mice from E0.5 to E18.5. Fetal hearts were collected at E18.5 for coronary artery morphological analysis. Sapropterin treatment to diabetic dams reduced the incidence of coronary artery malformation in offspring from 50.0% to 20.6%. Decreases in coronary artery luminal diameter, volume and abundance in fetal hearts from diabetic mothers, were prevented by sapropterin treatment. Maternal diabetes reduced epicardial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and expression of transcription and growth factors critical to coronary artery development including hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (Hif1a), Snail1, Slug, β-catenin, retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (Aldh1a2), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial group factor receptor 2 (Vegfr2) in E12.5 hearts. Additionally, eNOS phosphorylation was lower while oxidative stress was higher in E12.5 hearts from maternal diabetes. Notably, these abnormalities were all restored to normal levels after sapropterin treatment. In conclusion, sapropterin treatment increases eNOS activity, lowers oxidative stress and reduces coronary artery malformation in offspring of pregestational diabetes. Sapropterin may have therapeutic potential in preventing coronary artery malformation in maternal diabetes.
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