Nitric oxide stimulates matrix synthesis and deposition by adult human aortic smooth muscle cells within three-dimensional cocultures.
ABSTRACT: Vascular diseases are characterized by the over-proliferation and migration of aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs), and degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) within the vessel wall, leading to compromise in cell-cell and cell-matrix signaling pathways. Tissue engineering approaches to regulate SMC over-proliferation and enhance healthy ECM synthesis showed promise, but resulted in low crosslinking efficiency. Here, we report the benefits of exogenous nitric oxide (NO) cues, delivered from S-Nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), to cell proliferation and matrix deposition by adult human aortic SMCs (HA-SMCs) within three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic cocultures. A coculture platform with two adjacent, permeable 3D culture chambers was developed to enable paracrine signaling between vascular cells. HA-SMCs were cultured in these chambers within collagen hydrogels, either alone or in the presence of human aortic endothelial cells (HA-ECs) cocultures, and exogenously supplemented with varying GSNO dosages (0-100?nM) for 21 days. Results showed that EC cocultures stimulated SMC proliferation within GSNO-free cultures. With increasing GSNO concentration, HA-SMC proliferation decreased in the presence or absence of EC cocultures, while HA-EC proliferation increased. GSNO (100?nM) significantly enhanced the protein amounts synthesized by HA-SMCs, in the presence or absence of EC cocultures, while lower dosages (1-10?nM) offered marginal benefits. Multi-fold increases in the synthesis and deposition of elastin, glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and lysyl oxidase crosslinking enzyme (LOX) were noted at higher GSNO dosages, and coculturing with ECs significantly furthered these trends. Similar increases in TIMP-1 and MMP-9 levels were noted within cocultures with increasing GSNO dosages. Such increases in matrix synthesis correlated with NO-stimulated increases in endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression within EC and SMC cultures, respectively. Results attest to the benefits of delivering NO cues to suppress SMC proliferation and promote robust ECM synthesis and deposition by adult human SMCs, with significant applications in tissue engineering, biomaterial scaffold development, and drug delivery.
Project description:Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are characterized by matrix remodeling, elastin degradation, absence of nitric oxide (NO) signaling, and inflammation, influencing smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotype and gene expression. Little is known about the biomolecular release and intrinsic biomechanics of human AAA-SMCs. NO delivery could be an attractive therapeutic strategy to restore lost functionality of AAA-SMCs by inhibiting inflammation and cell stiffening. We aim to establish the differences in phenotype and gene expression of adult human AAA-SMCs from healthy SMCs. Based on our previous study which showed benefits of optimal NO dosage delivered via S-Nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) to healthy aortic SMCs, we tested whether such benefits would occur in AAA-SMCs. The mRNA expression of three genes involved in matrix degradation (ACE, ADAMTS5 and ADAMTS8) was significantly downregulated in AAA-SMCs. Total protein and glycosaminoglycans synthesis were higher in AAA-SMCs than healthy-SMCs (p?<?0.05 for AAA-vs. healthy- SMC cultures) and was enhanced by GSNO and 3D cultures (p?<?0.05 for 3D vs. 2D cultures; p?<?0.05 for GSNO vs. non-GSNO cases). Elastin gene expression, synthesis and deposition, desmosine crosslinker levels, and lysyl oxidase (LOX) functional activity were lower, while cell proliferation, iNOS, LOX and fibrillin-1 gene expressions were higher in AAA-SMCs (p?<?0.05 between respective cases), with differential benefits from GSNO exposure. GSNO and 3D cultures reduced MMPs -2, -9, and increased TIMP-1 release in AAA-SMC cultures (p?<?0.05 for GSNO vs. non-GSNO cultures). AAA-SMCs were inherently stiffer and had smoother surface than healthy SMCs (p?<?0.01 in both cases), but GSNO reduced stiffness (~25%; p?<?0.01) and increased roughness (p?<?0.05) of both cell types. In conclusion, exogenously-delivered NO offers an attractive strategy by providing therapeutic benefits to AAA-SMCs.
Project description:Coculture of endothelial cells (ECs) and smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in vitro can yield confluent monolayers or EC networks. Factors influencing this transition are not known. In this study, we examined whether the spatial arrangement of EC-SMC cocultures affected EC migration, network morphology, and angiogenic protein secretion. Human umbilical cord blood-derived ECs (hCB-ECs) were grown in coculture with human aortic SMCs in either a mixed or lamellar spatial geometry and analyzed over a culture period of 12 days. The hCB-ECs cultured on SMCs in a mixed system had higher cell speeds, shorter persistence times, and lower random motility coefficients than ECs in a lamellar system. By day 12 of coculture, mixed systems demonstrated greater anastomoses and capillary loop formation than lamellar systems as evidenced by a higher number of branch points, angle of curvature between branch points, and percentage of imaged area covered by networks. The network morphology was more uniform in the mixed systems than the lamellar systems with fewer EC clusters present after several days in culture. Proliferation of hCB-ECs was higher for mixed cocultures during the first 24?h of coculture, and then declined dramatically suggesting that proliferation only contributed to network formation during the early stages of coculture. Proteome assay results show reduced solution levels, but no change in intracellular levels of angiogenic proteins in lamellar systems compared to mixed systems. These data suggest that mixing ECs and SMCs together favors the formation of EC networks to a greater extent than a lamellar arrangement in which ECs form a cell layer above a confluent, quiescent layer of SMCs.
Project description:The development of the cardiac outflow tract (OFT), which connects the heart to the great arteries, relies on a complex crosstalk between endothelial (ECs) and smooth muscle (SMCs) cells. Defects in OFT development can lead to severe malformations, including aortic aneurysms, which are frequently associated with impaired TGF-? signaling. To better understand the role of TGF-? signaling in OFT formation, we generated zebrafish lacking the TGF-? receptor Alk5 and found a strikingly specific dilation of the OFT: alk5-/- OFTs exhibit increased EC numbers as well as extracellular matrix (ECM) and SMC disorganization. Surprisingly, endothelial-specific alk5 overexpression in alk5-/- rescues the EC, ECM, and SMC defects. Transcriptomic analyses reveal downregulation of the ECM gene fibulin-5, which when overexpressed in ECs ameliorates OFT morphology and function. These findings reveal a new requirement for endothelial TGF-? signaling in OFT morphogenesis and suggest an important role for the endothelium in the etiology of aortic malformations.
Project description:Smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration involves interactions of integrin receptors with extracellular matrix (ECM) and is an important process of neointimal formation in atherosclerosis and restenosis after vascular interventions. Previous studies have shown that periostin (PN), a novel ECM protein, is upregulated in rat carotid artery after balloon injury, and growth factor-stimulated expression of PN promotes SMC migration in vitro. Here, we address the mechanism by which PN-integrin interaction mediates SMC migration in vitro. Aortic SMCs isolated from PN null mice exhibited a significantly reduced ability to migrate and proliferate in vitro. Endogenous PN protein was absent and very low in the culture medium from the primary cultures of PN-/- and wildtype SMCs, respectively. In both types of SMCs, adenovirus-mediated overexpression of HA-tagged PN to a similar extent, which induced a robust cell migration concomitantly with an increase in beta3-integrin expression and phosphorylation of FAK (Tyr397). Furthermore, in cultured human SMCs, specific integrin blocking antibodies showed that interactions of PN-alphanubeta3 and PN-alphanubeta5, but not PN-beta1 integrins, are required for SMC migration. Inhibition of FAK signaling by overexpression of an endogenous FAK inhibitor termed FRNK (FAK-related nonkinase) significantly attenuated FAK (Tyr397) phosphorylation and the SMC migration induced by PN. These results reveal a mechanism whereby PN mediates vascular SMC migration through an interaction with alphaV-integrins (mainly alphanubeta3) and subsequent activation of FAK pathway.
Project description:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) have a pivotal role in cardiovascular diseases and are responsible for hyaluronan (HA) deposition in thickening vessel walls. HA regulates SMC proliferation, migration, and inflammation, which accelerates neointima formation. We used the HA synthesis inhibitor 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU) to reduce HA production in human aortic SMCs and found a significant increase of apoptotic cells. Interestingly, the exogenous addition of HA together with 4-MU reduced apoptosis. A similar anti-apoptotic effect was observed also by adding other glycosaminoglycans and glucose to 4-MU-treated cells. Furthermore, the anti-apoptotic effect of HA was mediated by Toll-like receptor 4, CD44, and PI3K but not by ERK1/2.
Project description:Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells (ECs) are in close contact with blood vessels. SMC phenotypes can be altered during pathological vascular remodeling. However, how SMC phenotypes affect EC properties remains largely unknown. In this study, we found that PDGF-BB-induced synthetic SMCs suppressed EC proliferation and migration while exhibiting increased expression of anti-angiogenic factors, such as endostatin, and decreased pro-angiogenic factors, including CXC motif ligand 1 (CXCL1). Cyclopentenyl cytosine (CPEC), a CTP synthase inhibitor that has been reported previously to inhibit SMC proliferation and injury-induced neointima formation, induced SMC redifferentiation. Interestingly, CPEC-conditioned SMC culture medium promoted EC proliferation and migration because of an increase in CXCL1 along with decreased endostatin production in SMCs. Addition of recombinant endostatin protein or blockade of CXCL1 with a neutralizing antibody suppressed the EC proliferation and migration induced by CPEC-conditioned SMC medium. Mechanistically, CPEC functions as a cytosine derivate to stimulate adenosine receptors A1 and A2a, which further activate downstream cAMP and Akt signaling, leading to the phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein and, consequently, SMC redifferentiation. These data provided proof of a novel concept that synthetic SMC exhibits an anti-angiogenic SMC phenotype, whereas contractile SMC shows a pro-angiogenic phenotype. CPEC appears to be a potent stimulator for switching the anti-angiogenic SMC phenotype to the pro-angiogenic phenotype, which may be essential for CPEC to accelerate re-endothelialization for vascular repair during injury-induced vascular wall remodeling.
Project description:Intimal hyperplasia is the cause of the recurrent occlusive vascular disease (restenosis). Drugs currently used to treat restenosis effectively inhibit smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation, but also inhibit the growth of the protective luminal endothelial cell (EC) lining, leading to thrombosis. To identify compounds that selectively inhibit SMC versus EC proliferation, we have developed a high-throughput screening (HTS) format using human cells and have employed this to screen a multiple compound collection (NIH Clinical Collection). We developed an automated, accurate proliferation assay in 96-well plates using human aortic SMCs and ECs. Using this HTS format we screened a 447-drug NIH Clinical Library. We identified 11 compounds that inhibited SMC proliferation greater than 50%, among which idarubicin exhibited a unique feature of preferentially inhibiting SMC versus EC proliferation. Concentration-response analysis revealed this differential effect most evident over an ?10 nM-5 µM window. In vivo testing of idarubicin in a rat carotid injury model at 14 days revealed an 80% reduction of intimal hyperplasia and a 45% increase of lumen size with no significant effect on re-endothelialization. Taken together, we have established a HTS assay of human vascular cell proliferation, and identified idarubicin as a selective inhibitor of SMC versus EC proliferation both in vitro and in vivo. Screening of larger and more diverse compound libraries may lead to the discovery of next-generation therapeutics that can inhibit intima hyperplasia without impairing re-endothelialization.
Project description:E-selectin is a major adhesion molecule expressed by endothelial cells (ECs), which are exposed to shear stress and neighboring smooth muscle cells (SMCs). We investigated the mechanisms underlying the modulation of EC E-selectin expression by SMCs and shear stress. SMC coculture induced rapid and sustained increases in expression of E-selectin and phosphorylation of interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor-associated kinase glycoprotein-130, as well as the downstream mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and Akt. By using specific inhibitors, dominant-negative mutants, and small interfering RNA, we demonstrated that activations of c-Jun-NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 of the MAPK pathways are critical for the coculture-induced E-selectin expression. Gel shifting and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that SMC coculture increased the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB)-promoter binding activity in ECs; inhibition of NF-kappaB activation by p65-antisense, lactacystin, and N-acetyl-cysteine blocked the coculture-induced E-selectin promoter activity. Protein arrays and blocking assays using neutralizing antibodies demonstrated that IL-1beta and IL-6 produced by EC/SMC cocultures are major contributors to the coculture induction of EC signaling and E-selectin expression. Preshearing of ECs at 12 dynes/cm(2) inhibited the coculture-induced EC signaling and E-selectin expression. Our findings have elucidated the molecular mechanisms underlying the SMC induction of EC E-selectin expression and the shear stress protection against this SMC induction.
Project description:Smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation and fibrosis contribute to the development of advanced atherosclerotic lesions. Oxidative stress caused by increased production or unphysiological location of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a known major pathomechanism. However, in atherosclerosis, in particular under hyperglycaemic/diabetic conditions, the hydrogen peroxide-producing NADPH oxidase type 4 (NOX4) is protective. Here we aim to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this paradoxical atheroprotection of vascular smooth muscle NOX4 under conditions of normo- and hyperglycaemia both in vivo and ex vivo. Following 20-weeks of streptozotocin-induced diabetes, Apoe(-/-) mice showed a reduction in SM-alpha-actin and calponin gene expression with concomitant increases in platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), osteopontin (OPN) and the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein fibronectin when compared to non-diabetic controls. Genetic deletion of Nox4 (Nox4(-/)(-)Apoe(-/-)) exacerbated diabetes-induced expression of PDGF, OPN, collagen I, and proliferation marker Ki67. Aortic SMCs isolated from NOX4-deficient mice exhibited a dedifferentiated phenotype including loss of contractile gene expression, increased proliferation and ECM production as well as elevated levels of NOX1-associated ROS. Mechanistic studies revealed that elevated PDGF signalling in NOX4-deficient SMCs mediated the loss of calponin and increase in fibronectin, while the upregulation of NOX1 was associated with the increased expression of OPN and markers of proliferation. These findings demonstrate that NOX4 actively regulates SMC pathophysiological responses in diabetic Apoe(-/-) mice and in primary mouse SMCs through the activities of PDGF and NOX1.
Project description:Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disorder with pleiotropic manifestations caused by heterozygous mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2. One of the less investigated complications of TSC is the formation of aneurysms of the descending aorta, which are characterized on pathologic examination by smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation in the aortic media. SMCs were explanted from Tsc2(+/-) mice to investigate the pathogenesis of aortic aneurysms caused by TSC2 mutations. Tsc2(+/-) SMCs demonstrated increased phosphorylation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), S6 and p70S6K and increased proliferation rates compared with wild-type (WT) SMCs. Tsc2(+/-) SMCs also had reduced expression of SMC contractile proteins compared with WT SMCs. An inhibitor of mTOR signaling, rapamycin, decreased SMC proliferation and increased contractile protein expression in the Tsc2(+/-) SMCs to levels similar to WT SMCs. Exposure to alpha-elastin fragments also decreased proliferation of Tsc2(+/-) SMCs and increased levels of p27(kip1), but failed to increase expression of contractile proteins. In response to artery injury using a carotid artery ligation model, Tsc2(+/-) mice significantly increased neointima formation compared with the control mice, and the neointima formation was inhibited by treatment with rapamycin. These results demonstrate that Tsc2 haploinsufficiency in SMCs increases proliferation and decreases contractile protein expression and suggest that the increased proliferative potential of the mutant cells may be suppressed in vivo by interaction with elastin. These findings provide insights into the molecular pathogenesis of aortic disease in TSC patients and identify a potential therapeutic target for treatment of this complication of the disease.