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Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) represent important modulators of plaque stability in advanced lesions. We previously reported that loss of small proline-rich repeat protein 3 (Sprr3), leads to VSMC apoptosis in a PI3K/Akt-dependent manner and accelerates lesion progression. Here, we investigated the role of Sprr3 in modulating plaque stability in hyperlipidemic ApoE-/- mice. We show that loss of Sprr3 increased necrotic core size and reduced cap collagen content of atheromas in brachiocephalic arteries with evidence of plaque rupture and development of intraluminal thrombi. Moreover, Sprr3-/-ApoE-/- mice developed advanced coronary artery lesions accompanied by intraplaque hemorrhage and left ventricle microinfarcts. SPRR3 is known to reduce VSMC survival in lesions by promoting their apoptosis. In addition, we demonstrated that Sprr3-/- VSMCs displayed reduced expression of procollagen in a PI3K/Akt dependent manner. SPRR3 loss also increased MMP gelatinase activity in lesions, and increased MMP2 expression, migration and contraction of VSMCs independently of PI3K/Akt. Consequently, Sprr3 represents the first described VSMC modulator of each of the critical features of cap stability, including VSMC numbers, collagen type I synthesis, and protease activity through Akt dependent and independent pathways.
OBJECTIVE - Endoglin, a transforming growth factor-β superfamily coreceptor, is predominantly expressed in endothelial cells and has essential roles in vascular development. However, whether endoglin is also expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), especially in vivo, remains controversial. Furthermore, the roles of endoglin in VSMC biology remain largely unknown. Our objective was to examine the expression and determine the function of endoglin in VSMCs during angiogenesis.
APPROACH AND RESULTS - Here, we determine that endoglin is robustly expressed in VSMCs. Using CRISPR/CAS9 knockout and short hairpin RNA knockdown in the VSMC/endothelial coculture model system, we determine that endoglin in VSMCs, but not in endothelial cells, promotes VSMCs recruitment by the endothelial cells both in vitro and in vivo. Using an unbiased bioinformatics analysis of RNA sequencing data and further study, we determine that, mechanistically, endoglin mediates VSMC recruitment by promoting VSMC migration and spreading on endothelial cells via increasing integrin/FAK pathway signaling, whereas endoglin has minimal effects on VSMC adhesion to endothelial cells. In addition, we further determine that loss of endoglin in VSMCs inhibits VSMC recruitment in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS - These studies demonstrate that endoglin has an important role in VSMC recruitment and blood vessel maturation during angiogenesis and also provide novel insights into how discordant endoglin function in endothelial and VSMCs may regulate vascular maturation and angiogenesis.
© 2017 The Authors.
Various hypertensive stimuli lead to exuberant adventitial collagen deposition in large arteries, exacerbating blood pressure elevation and end-organ damage. Collagen production is generally attributed to resident fibroblasts; however, other cells, including resident and bone marrow-derived stem cell antigen positive (Sca-1(+)) cells and endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells, can produce collagen and contribute to vascular stiffening. Using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence, we found that adventitial Sca-1(+) progenitor cells begin to produce collagen and acquire a fibroblast-like phenotype in hypertension. We also found that bone marrow-derived cells represent more than half of the matrix-producing cells in hypertension, and that one-third of these are Sca-1(+). Cell sorting and lineage-tracing studies showed that cells of endothelial origin contribute to no more than one fourth of adventitial collagen I(+) cells, whereas those of vascular smooth muscle lineage do not contribute. Our findings indicate that Sca-1(+) progenitor cells and bone marrow-derived infiltrating fibrocytes are major sources of arterial fibrosis in hypertension. Endothelial to mesenchymal transition likely also contributes, albeit to a lesser extent and pre-existing resident fibroblasts represent a minority of aortic collagen-producing cells in hypertension. This study shows that vascular stiffening represents a complex process involving recruitment and transformation of multiple cells types that ultimately elaborate adventitial extracellular matrix.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) complicating chronic parenchymal lung disease, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, results in significant morbidity and mortality. Since the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling pathway is important for development of pulmonary hypertension in chronic hypoxia, we investigated whether HIF signaling in vascular endothelium regulates development of PH related to pulmonary fibrosis. We generated a transgenic model in which HIF is deleted within vascular endothelial cells and then exposed these mice to chronic intraperitoneal bleomycin to induce PH associated with lung fibrosis. Although no differences in the degree of fibrotic remodeling were observed, we found that endothelial HIF-deficient mice were protected against development of PH, including right ventricle and pulmonary vessel remodeling. Similarly, endothelial HIF-deficient mice were protected from PH after a 4-wk exposure to normobaric hypoxia. In vitro studies of pulmonary vascular endothelial cells isolated from the HIF-targeted mice and controls revealed that endothelial HIF signaling increases endothelial cell expression of connective tissue growth factor, enhances vascular permeability, and promotes pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell proliferation and wound healing ability, all of which have the potential to impact the development of PH in vivo. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that vascular endothelial cell HIF signaling is necessary for development of hypoxia and pulmonary fibrosis associated PH. As such, HIF and HIF-regulated targets represent a therapeutic target in these conditions.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW - This review will highlight recent developments in mineralocorticoid receptor research which impact aldosterone-associated vascular and cardiometabolic dysfunction.
RECENT FINDINGS - The mineralocorticoid receptor is also expressed in vascular smooth muscle and vascular endothelium, and contributes to vascular function and remodeling. Adipocyte-derived leptin stimulates aldosterone secretion, which may explain the observed link between obesity and hyperaldosteronism. Adipocyte mineralocorticoid receptor overexpression produces systemic changes consistent with metabolic syndrome. Ongoing studies with novel nonsteroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists may provide a novel treatment for diabetic nephropathy and heart failure in patients with chronic kidney disease, with reduced risk of hyperkalemia.
SUMMARY - Ongoing research continues to demonstrate novel roles of the vascular and adipocyte mineralocorticoid receptor function, which may explain the beneficial metabolic and vascular benefits of mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists.
RATIONALE - Myocardial infarction causes irreversible tissue damage, leading to heart failure. We recently discovered that canonical Wnt signaling and the Wnt10b ligand are strongly induced in mouse hearts after infarction. Wnt10b regulates cell fate in various organs, but its role in the heart is unknown.
OBJECTIVE - To investigate the effect of Wnt10b gain-of-function on cardiac repair mechanisms and to assess its potential to improve ventricular function after injury.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Histological and molecular analyses showed that Wnt10b is expressed in cardiomyocytes and localized in the intercalated discs of mouse and human hearts. After coronary artery ligation or cryoinjury in mice, Wnt10b is strongly and transiently induced in peri-infarct cardiomyocytes during granulation tissue formation. To determine the effect of Wnt10b on neovascularization and fibrosis, we generated a mouse line to increase endogenous Wnt10b levels in cardiomyocytes. We found that gain of Wnt10b function orchestrated a recovery phenotype characterized by robust neovascularization of the injury zone, less myofibroblasts, reduced scar size, and improved ventricular function compared with wild-type mice. Wnt10b stimulated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 in endothelial cells and angiopoietin-1 in vascular smooth muscle cells through nuclear factor-κB activation. These effects coordinated endothelial growth and smooth muscle cell recruitment, promoting robust formation of large, coronary-like blood vessels.
CONCLUSION - Wnt10b gain-of-function coordinates arterial formation and attenuates fibrosis in cardiac tissue after injury. Because generation of mature blood vessels is necessary for efficient perfusion, our findings could lead to novel strategies to optimize the inherent repair capacity of the heart and prevent the onset of heart failure.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.
A platform technology has been developed and tested for delivery of intracellular-acting peptides through electrostatically complexed nanoparticles, or nano-polyplexes, formulated from an anionic endosomolytic polymer and cationic therapeutic peptides. This delivery platform has been initially tested and optimized for delivery of two unique vasoactive peptides, a phosphomimetic of heat shock protein 20 and an inhibitor of MAPKAP kinase II, to prevent pathological vasoconstriction (i.e., vasospasm) in human vascular tissue. These peptides inhibit vasoconstriction and promote vasorelaxation by modulating actin dynamics in vascular smooth muscle cells. Formulating these peptides into nano-polyplexes significantly enhances peptide uptake and retention, facilitates cytosolic delivery through a pH-dependent endosomal escape mechanism, and enhances peptide bioactivity in vitro as measured by inhibition of F-actin stress fiber formation. In comparison to treatment with the free peptides, which were endowed with cell-penetrating sequences, the nano-polyplexes significantly increased vasorelaxation, inhibited vasoconstriction, and decreased F-actin formation in the human saphenous vein ex vivo. These results suggest that these formulations have significant potential for treatment of conditions such as cerebral vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage. Furthermore, because many therapeutic peptides include cationic cell-penetrating segments, this simple and modular platform technology may have broad applicability as a cost-effective approach for enhancing the efficacy of cytosolically active peptides.
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), a proinflammatory cytokine, causes vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and migration and promotes inflammatory vascular lesions. Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation by TNFα requires endosomal superoxide production by Nox1. In endothelial cells, TNFα stimulates c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), which inhibits NF-κB signaling. The mechanism by which JNK negatively regulates TNFα-induced NF-κB activation has not been defined. We hypothesized that JNK modulates NF-κB activation in VSMC, and does so via a Nox1-dependent mechanism. TNFα-induced NF-κB activation was TNFR1- and endocytosis-dependent. Inhibition of endocytosis with dominant-negative dynamin (DynK44A) potentiated TNFα-induced JNK activation, but decreased ERK activation, while p38 kinase phosphorylation was not altered. DynK44A attenuated intracellular, endosomal superoxide production in wild-type (WT) VSMC, but not in NADPH oxidase 1 (Nox1) knockout (KO) cells. siRNA targeting JNK1 or JNK2 potentiated, while a JNK activator (anisomycin) inhibited, TNFα-induced NF-κB activation in WT, but not in Nox1 KO cells. TNFα-stimulated superoxide generation was enhanced by JNK1 inhibition in WT, but not in Nox1 KO VSMC. These data suggest that JNK suppresses the inflammatory response to TNFα by reducing Nox1-dependent endosomal ROS production. JNK and endosomal superoxide may represent novel targets for pharmacologic modulation of TNFα signaling and vascular inflammation.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Regional differences in vascular physiology and disease response exist throughout the vascular tree. While these differences in physiology and disease correspond to regional vascular environmental conditions, there is also compelling evidence that the embryonic origins of the smooth muscle inherent to the vessels may play a role. Here, we review what is known regarding the role of embryonic origin of vascular smooth muscle cells during vascular development. The focus of this review is to highlight the heterogeneity in the origins of vascular smooth muscle cells and the resulting regional physiologies of the vessels. Our goal is to stimulate future investigation into this area and provide a better understanding of vascular organogenesis and disease. .
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
IMPORTANCE - Surgical skin markers are used off-label to mark human saphenous veins (HSVs) to maintain orientation before implantation as aortocoronary or peripheral arterial bypass grafts. These surgical skin markers impair functional responses of the HSV tissue.
OBJECTIVES - To investigate the effect of brilliant blue dye 1 (brilliant blue FCF [for food coloring]; hereinafter, FCF) as a nontoxic alternative marking dye and to determine whether FCF has pharmacological properties.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS - Segments of HSVs were collected in university hospitals from patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting procedures immediately after harvest (unmanipulated) or after typical intraoperative surgical graft preparation (after manipulation). Rat inferior venae cavae were used to determine the pharmacological properties and cellular targets of FCF. Endothelial and smooth muscle functional responses were determined in a muscle bath, and intimal thickening in HSVs was determined after 14 days in organ culture.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES - Contractile responses were measured in force and converted to stress. Smooth muscle function was expressed as maximal responses to potassium chloride depolarization contractions. Endothelial function was defined as the percentage of relaxation of maximal agonist-induced contraction. Neointimal thickness was measured by histomorphometric analysis.
RESULTS - Human saphenous veins stored in the presence of FCF had no loss of endothelial or smooth muscle function. Unmanipulated HSVs preserved in the presence of FCF demonstrated a significant increase in endothelial-dependent relaxation (mean [SEM], 25.2% [6.4%] vs 30.2% [6.7%]; P = .02). Application of FCF to functionally nonviable tissue significantly enhanced the smooth muscle responses (mean [SEM], 0.018 [0.004] × 10⁵ N/m² vs 0.057 [0.016] × 10⁵ N/m²; P = .05). Treatment with FCF reduced intimal thickness in organ culture (mean [SEM], -17.5% [2.1%] for unmanipulated HSVs vs -27.9% [3.7%] for HSVs after manipulation; P < .001). In rat inferior venae cavae, FCF inhibited the contraction induced by the P2X7 receptor agonist 2'(3')-O-(4-benzoyl)benzoyl-adenosine-5'-triphosphate (mean [SEM], 14.8% [2.2%] vs 6.5% [1.8%]; P = .02) to an extent similar to the P2X7 receptor antagonist oxidized adenosine triphosphate (mean [SEM], 5.0% [0.9%]; P < .02 vs control) or the pannexin hemichannel inhibitor probenecid (mean [SEM], 7.3% [1.6%] and 4.7% [0.9%] for 0.5mM and 2mM, respectively; P < .05).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE - Treatment with FCF did not impair endothelial or smooth muscle function in HSVs. Brilliant blue FCF enhanced endothelial-dependent relaxation, restored smooth muscle function, and prevented intimal hyperplasia in HSVs in organ culture. These pharmacological properties of FCF may be due to P2X7 receptor or pannexin channel inhibition. Brilliant blue FCF is an alternative, nontoxic marking dye that may improve HSV conduit function and decrease intimal hyperplasia.