Research Highlights

Adropin protein helps protect endothelium

Published online 2 December 2010

Mohammed Yahia

The endothelium, a layer of cells that lines certain organs and blood vessels, protects against a variety of inflammatory, metabolic, infectious, renal and cardiovascular diseases, such as atherothrombosis. Nitric oxide, synthesized from the precursor L-arginine, plays an important role in maintaining endothelial integrity and function.

An international team of researchers, including two researchers from the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, found that the recently identified protein adropin helps maintain endothelial cell homeostasis through the promotion of nitric oxide production.

They found that adropin increased the levels of the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), the enzyme that catalyses the production of nitric oxide, through increased transcription, elevated translation and reduced degradation. To exert its protective effect, adropin activates vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR2) which then activates two pathways upstream of eNOS activation. Adropin might be able to improve vascular function through other nitric oxide-independent routes.

Certain metabolic effects of adropin have already has documented, such as increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance and influencing obesity. The researchers suggest that, beside these metabolic applications, adropin therapy may be a new way to improve endothelial function, promote angiogenesis and retard atherothrombosis.


  1. Lovren, F. et al. Adropin Is a Novel Regulator of Endothelial Function. Circulation 122, 185-192 (2010). | Article