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.
Project description:Low serum testosterone level is associated with aging-related vascular stiffness, but the underlying mechanism is unclear. The Growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6) /Axl pathway has been proved to play important roles in cell senescence. In this study, we intend to explore whether Gas6/Axl is involved in the effect of testosterone on vascular aging amelioration. Vascular aging models of wild type and Axl-/- mice were established by natural aging. Mice of these two gene types were randomized into young group, aging group and testosterone undecanoate (TU) treatment group. Mice were treated with TU (37.9 mg/kg) in the TU group, which treated with solvent reagent served as control. The aging mice exhibited decreases in serum testosterone, Gas6 and Axl levels and an increase in cell senescence, manifested age-related vascular remodeling. Testosterone treatment induced testosterone and Gas6 levels in serum, and ameliorated cell senescence and vascular remodeling in aging mice. Furthermore, we uncover the underlying molecular mechanism and show that testosterone treatment restored the phosphorylation of Akt and FoxO1a. Axl knockout accelerated cell senescence and vascular remodeling, and resisted the anti-aging effect of testosterone. Testosterone might exert a protective effect on vascular aging by improving cell senescence and vascular remodeling through the Gas6/Axl pathway.
Project description:The receptor tyrosine kinase Axl and its ligand Gas6 are involved in the development of renal diabetic disease. In vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) Axl is activated by reactive oxygen species and stimulates migration and cell survival, suggesting a role for Axl in the vascular complications of diabetes.We investigated the effect of varying glucose concentration on Axl signaling in VSMCs. Glucose exerted powerful effects on Gas6-Axl signaling with greater activation of Akt and mTOR in low glucose, and greater activation of ERK1/2 in high glucose. Plasma membrane distribution and tyrosine phosphorylation of Axl were not affected by glucose. However, coimmunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that glucose changed the interaction of Axl with its binding partners. Specifically, binding of Axl to the p85 subunit of PI3-kinase was increased in low glucose, whereas binding to SHP-2 was increased in high glucose. Furthermore, Gas6-Axl induced migration was increased in high glucose, whereas Gas6-Axl mediated inhibition of apoptosis was greater in low glucose.This study demonstrates a role for glucose in altering Axl signaling through coupling to binding partners and suggests a mechanism by which Axl contributes to VSMC dysfunction in diabetes.
Project description:Liver fibrosis, an important health concern associated to chronic liver injury that provides a permissive environment for cancer development, is characterized by accumulation of extracellular matrix components mainly derived from activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Axl, a receptor tyrosine kinase and its ligand Gas6, are involved in cell differentiation, immune response and carcinogenesis.HSCs were obtained from WT and Axl(-/-) mice, treated with recombinant Gas6 protein (rGas6), Axl siRNAs or the Axl inhibitor BGB324, and analyzed by western blot and real-time PCR. Experimental fibrosis was studied in CCl4-treated WT and Axl(-/-) mice, and in combination with Axl inhibitor. Gas6 and Axl serum levels were measured in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients.In primary mouse HSCs, Gas6 and Axl levels paralleled HSC activation. rGas6 phosphorylated Axl and AKT prior to HSC phenotypic changes, while Axl siRNA silencing reduced HSC activation. Moreover, BGB324 blocked Axl/AKT phosphorylation and diminished HSC activation. In addition, Axl(-/-) mice displayed decreased HSC activation in vitro and liver fibrogenesis after chronic damage by CCl4 administration. Similarly, BGB324 reduced collagen deposition and CCl4-induced liver fibrosis in mice. Importantly, Gas6 and Axl serum levels increased in ALD and HCV patients, inversely correlating with liver functionality.The Gas6/Axl axis is required for full HSC activation. Gas6 and Axl serum levels increase in parallel to chronic liver disease progression. Axl targeting may be a therapeutic strategy for liver fibrosis management.
Project description:AXL, a TAM receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), and its ligand growth arrest-specific 6 (GAS6) are implicated in cancer metastasis and drug resistance, and cellular entry of viruses. Given this, AXL is an attractive therapeutic target, and its inhibitors are being tested in cancer and COVID-19 clinical trials. Still, astonishingly little is known about intracellular mechanisms that control its function. Here, we characterized endocytosis of AXL, a process known to regulate intracellular functions of RTKs. Consistent with the notion that AXL is a primary receptor for GAS6, its depletion was sufficient to block GAS6 internalization. We discovered that upon receptor ligation, GAS6-AXL complexes were rapidly internalized via several endocytic pathways including both clathrin-mediated and clathrin-independent routes, among the latter the CLIC/GEEC pathway and macropinocytosis. The internalization of AXL was strictly dependent on its kinase activity. In comparison to other RTKs, AXL was endocytosed faster and the majority of the internalized receptor was not degraded but rather recycled via SNX1-positive endosomes. This trafficking pattern coincided with sustained AKT activation upon GAS6 stimulation. Specifically, reduced internalization of GAS6-AXL upon the CLIC/GEEC downregulation intensified, whereas impaired recycling due to depletion of SNX1 and SNX2 attenuated AKT signaling. Altogether, our data uncover the coupling between AXL endocytic trafficking and AKT signaling upon GAS6 stimulation. Moreover, our study provides a rationale for pharmacological inhibition of AXL in antiviral therapy as viruses utilize GAS6-AXL-triggered endocytosis to enter cells.
Project description:This study was conducted to determine the following: (1) whether matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is increased in systemic vessels of preeclamptic women, (2) whether this increase might be mediated by neutrophils, and (3) whether MMP-1 could be responsible for vascular dysfunction. Omental arteries and plasma were collected from healthy pregnant and preeclamptic women. Omental arteries were evaluated for gene and protein expression of MMP-1, collagen type 1?, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, and vascular reactivity to MMP-1. Gene and protein expression levels were also evaluated in human vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) co-cultured with activated neutrophils, reactive oxygen species, or tumor necrosis factor ?. Vessel expression of MMP-1 and circulating MMP-1 levels were increased in preeclamptic women, whereas vascular expression of collagen or tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 were down-regulated or unchanged. In cultured VSMCs, the imbalance in collagen-regulating genes of preeclamptic vessels was reproduced by treatment with neutrophils, tumor necrosis factor ?, or reactive oxygen species. Chemotaxis studies with cultured cells revealed that MMP-1 promoted recruitment of neutrophils via vascular smooth muscle release of interleukin-8. Furthermore, MMP-1 induced vasoconstriction via protease-activated receptor-1, whose expression was significantly increased in omental arteries of preeclamptic women and in VSMCs co-cultured with neutrophils. Collectively, these findings disclose a novel role for MMP-1 as a mediator of vasoconstriction and vascular dysfunction in preeclampsia.
Project description:The study was designed to investigate the role of endogenous sulfur dioxide (SO2) in collagen remodeling and its mechanisms in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Overexpression of endogenous SO2 synthase aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) 1 or 2 increased SO2 levels and inhibited collagen I and III expressions induced by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in VSMCs. In contrast, AAT1 or AAT2 knockdown induced a severe collagen deposition in TGF-β1-treated VSMCs. Furthermore, AAT1 or AAT2 overexpression suppressed procollagen I and III mRNA, upregulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-13 expression, downregulated tissue inhibitors of MMP-1 level, and vice versa. Mechanistically, AAT1 or AAT2 overexpression inhibited phosphorylation of type I TGF-β receptor (TβRI) and Smad2/3 in TGF-β1-stimulated VSMCs. Whereas SB431542, an inhibitor of TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathway, attenuated excessive collagen deposition induced by AAT knockdown. Most importantly, ectopically expressing AAT or exogenous addition of 100 μM SO2 blocked AAT deficiency-aggravated collagen accumulation in TGF-β1-stimulatd VSMCs, while no inhibition was observed at 100 μM ethyl pyruvate. These findings indicated that endogenous SO2 alleviated collagen remodeling by controlling TGF-β1/TβRI/Smad2/3-mediated modulation of collagen synthesis and degradation.
Project description:Axl is a receptor tyrosine kinase implicated in cell survival following growth factor withdrawal and other stressors. The binding of Axl's ligand, growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6), results in Axl autophosphorylation, recruitment of signaling molecules, and activation of downstream survival pathways. Pull-down assays and immunoprecipitations using wildtype and mutant Axl transfected cells determined that Axl directly binds growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2) at pYVN and the p85 subunit of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3 kinase) at two pYXXM sites (pY779 and pY821). Also, p85 can indirectly bind to Axl via an interaction between p85's second proline-rich region and the N-terminal SH3 domain of Grb2. Further, Grb2 and p85 can compete for binding at the pY821VNM site. Gas6-stimulation of Axl-transfected COS7 cells recruited activated PI3 kinase and phosphorylated Akt. An interaction between Axl, p85 and Grb2 was confirmed in brain homogenates, enriched populations of O4+ oligodendrocytes, and O4- flow-through prepared from day 10 mouse brain, indicating that cells with active Gas6/Axl signal through Grb2 and the PI3 kinase/Akt pathways.
Project description:Excessive migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) after vascular injury contributes to the development of occlusive vascular disease. Inhibition of VSMC migration is a validated therapeutic modality for occlusive vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and restenosis. We investigated the inhibitory effect of chebulinic acid (CBA) on cell migration and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 activation in platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB-induced mouse and human VSMCs. CBA significantly inhibited PDGF-BB-induced migration in mouse and human VSMCs, without inducing cell death. Additionally, CBA significantly blocked PDGF-BB-induced phosphorylation of the PDGF receptor (PDGF-R), Akt, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 by inhibiting the activation of the PDGF-BB signalling pathway. In both mouse and human VSMCs, CBA inhibited PDGF-induced MMP-2 mRNA and protein expression as well as the proteolytic activity of MMP-2. Moreover, CBA suppressed sprout outgrowth formation of VSMCs from endothelium-removed aortic rings as well as neointima formation following rat carotid balloon injury. Taken together, our findings indicated that CBA inhibits VSMC migration by decreasing MMP-2 expression through PDGF-R and the ERK1/2 and Akt pathways. Our data may improve the understanding of the antiatherogenic effects of CBA in VSMCs.
Project description:Vascular calcification is prevalent in patients with chronic kidney disease and leads to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although several reports have implicated mitochondrial dysfunction in cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, little is known about the potential role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the process of vascular calcification. This study investigated the effect of ?-lipoic acid (ALA), a naturally occurring antioxidant that improves mitochondrial function, on vascular calcification in vitro and in vivo. Calcifying vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) treated with inorganic phosphate (Pi) exhibited mitochondrial dysfunction, as demonstrated by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP production, the disruption of mitochondrial structural integrity and concurrently increased production of reactive oxygen species. These Pi-induced functional and structural mitochondrial defects were accompanied by mitochondria-dependent apoptotic events, including release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria into the cytosol, subsequent activation of caspase-9 and -3, and chromosomal DNA fragmentation. Intriguingly, ALA blocked the Pi-induced VSMC apoptosis and calcification by recovery of mitochondrial function and intracellular redox status. Moreover, ALA inhibited Pi-induced down-regulation of cell survival signals through the binding of growth arrest-specific gene 6 (Gas6) to its cognate receptor Axl and subsequent Akt activation, resulting in increased survival and decreased apoptosis. Finally, ALA significantly ameliorated vitamin D(3) -induced aortic calcification and mitochondrial damage in mice. Collectively, the findings suggest ALA attenuates vascular calcification by inhibiting VSMC apoptosis through two distinct mechanisms; preservation of mitochondrial function via its antioxidant potential and restoration of the Gas6/Axl/Akt survival pathway.
Project description:The receptor tyrosine kinase AXL is thought to play a role in metastasis; however, the therapeutic efficacy of an AXL-targeting agent remains largely untested in metastatic disease. In this study, we defined AXL as a therapeutic target for metastatic ovarian cancer. AXL is primarily expressed in metastases and advanced-stage human ovarian tumors but not in normal ovarian epithelium. Genetic inhibition of AXL in human metastatic ovarian tumor cells is sufficient to prevent the initiation of metastatic disease in vivo. Mechanistically, inhibition of AXL signaling in animals with metastatic disease results in decreased invasion and matrix metalloproteinase activity. Most importantly, soluble human AXL receptors that imposed a specific blockade of the GAS6/AXL pathway had a profound inhibitory effect on progression of established metastatic ovarian cancer without normal tissue toxicity. These results offer the first genetic validation of GAS6/AXL targeting as an effective strategy for inhibition of metastatic tumor progression in vivo. Furthermore, this study defines the soluble AXL receptor as a therapeutic candidate agent for treatment of metastatic ovarian cancer, for which current therapies are ineffective.