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Testosterone delays vascular smooth muscle cell senescence and inhibits collagen synthesis via the Gas6/Axl signaling pathway.


ABSTRACT: Testosterone deficiency is associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases in men. However, its effect on cell senescence, which plays a causal role in vascular aging, remains unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that testosterone alleviated vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) senescence and collagen synthesis via growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6)/Axl- and Akt/FoxO1a-dependent pathways. Testosterone significantly ameliorated angiotensin II-induced VSMC senescence and collagen overexpression. In addition, testosterone inhibited angiotensin II-induced matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) activity, which played a pivotal role in facilitating age-related collagen deposition. Testosterone increased the expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 but decreased the expression of MMP-2 and membrane type-1 metalloproteinase which contributed to increase MMP-2 activity. The effects on VSMCs senescence and collagen synthesis were mediated by restoration of angiotensin II-induced downregulation of Gas6 and Axl expression and a subsequent reduction of Akt and FoxO1a phosphorylation. The effects of testosterone were reversed by a Gas6 blocker, Axl-Fc, and a specific inhibitor of Axl, R428. Treatment of VSMCs with PI3K inhibitor LY294002 abrogated the downregulating effect of testosterone on MMP-2 activity. Furthermore, when FoxO1a expression was silenced by using a specific siRNA, the inhibitory effect of testosterone on MMP-2 activity was revered as well, that indicated this process was Akt/FoxO1a dependence. Taken together, Gas6/Axl and Akt/FoxO1a were involved in protective effects of testosterone on VSMCs senescence and collagen synthesis. Our results provide a novel mechanism underlying the protective effect of testosterone on vascular aging and may serve as a theoretical basis for testosterone replacement therapy.

SUBMITTER: Chen YQ 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5005950 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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