CD98 regulates vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation in atherosclerosis.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) migrate and proliferate to form a stabilizing fibrous cap that encapsulates atherosclerotic plaques. CD98 is a transmembrane protein made of two subunits, CD98 heavy chain (CD98hc) and one of six light chains, and is known to be involved in cell proliferation and survival. Because the influence of CD98hc on atherosclerosis development is unknown, our aim was to determine if CD98hc expressed on VSMC plays a role in shaping the morphology of atherosclerotic plaques by regulating VSMC function. METHODS:In addition to determining the role of CD98hc in VSMC proliferation and apoptosis, we utilized mice with SMC-specific deletion of CD98hc (CD98hcfl/flSM22?Cre+) to determine the effects of CD98hc deficiency on VSMC function in atherosclerotic plaque. RESULTS:After culturing for 5 days in vitro, CD98hc-/- VSMC displayed dramatically reduced cell counts, reduced proliferation, as well as reduced migration compared to control VSMC. Analysis of aortic VSCM after 8 weeks of HFD showed a reduction in CD98hc-/- VSMC proliferation as well as increased apoptosis compared to controls. A long-term atherosclerosis study using SMC-CD98hc-/-/ldlr-/- mice was performed. Although total plaque area was unchanged, CD98hc-/- mice showed reduced presence of VSMC within the plaque (2.1 ± 0.4% vs. 4.3 ± 0.4% SM22?-positive area per plaque area, p < 0.05), decreased collagen content, as well as increased necrotic core area (25.8 ± 1.9% vs. 10.9 ± 1.6%, p < 0.05) compared to control ldlr-/- mice. CONCLUSIONS:We conclude that CD98hc is required for VSMC proliferation, and that its deficiency leads to significantly reduced presence of VSMC in the neointima. Thus, CD98hc expression in VSMC contributes to the formation of plaques that are morphologically more stable, and thereby protects against atherothrombosis.
Project description:Growth factors may play a permissive role in atherosclerosis initiation and progression, in part via their promotion of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) accumulation in plaques. However, unstable human plaques often have a relative paucity of VSMC, which has been suggested to contribute to plaque rupture and erosion and to clinical events. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is an endocrine and autocrine/paracrine growth factor that is a mitogen for VSMC, but when infused into Apoe(-/-) mice it paradoxically reduces atherosclerosis burden.To determine the effect of stimulation of VSMC growth on atherosclerotic plaque development and to understand mechanisms of IGF-1's atheroprotective effect, we assessed atherosclerotic plaques in mice overexpressing IGF-1 in smooth muscle cells (SMC) under the control of the ?-smooth muscle actin promoter, after backcrossing to the Apoe(-/-) background (SMP8/Apoe(-/-)). Compared with Apoe(-/-) mice, these SMP8/Apoe(-/-) mice developed a comparable plaque burden after 12 weeks on a Western diet, suggesting that the ability of increased circulating IGF-1 to reduce plaque burden was mediated in large part via non-SMC target cells. However, advanced plaques in SMP8/Apoe(-/-) mice displayed several features of plaque stability, including increased fibrous cap area, ?-smooth muscle actin-positive SMC and collagen content, and reduced necrotic cores.These findings indicate that stimulation of VSMC IGF-1 signaling does not alter total atherosclerotic plaque burden and may improve atherosclerotic plaque stability.
Project description:Deletion of Akt1 leads to severe atherosclerosis and occlusive coronary artery disease. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are an important component of atherosclerotic plaques, responsible for promoting plaque stability in advanced lesions. Fibrous caps of unstable plaques contain less collagen and ECM components and fewer VSMCs than caps from stable lesions. Here, we investigated the role of Akt1 in VSMC proliferation, migration, and oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. In addition, we also characterized the atherosclerotic plaque morphology and cardiac function in an atherosclerosis-prone mouse model deficient in Akt1.Absence of Akt1 reduces VSMC proliferation and migration. Mechanistically, the proliferation and migratory phenotype found in Akt1-null VSMCs was linked to reduced Rac-1 activity and MMP-2 secretion. Serum starvation and stress-induced apoptosis was enhanced in Akt1 null VSMCs as determined by flow cytometry using Annexin V/PI staining. Immunohistochemical analysis of atherosclerotic plaques from Akt1(-/-ApoE-/-) mice showed a dramatic increase in plaque vulnerability characteristics such as enlarged necrotic core and reduced fibrous cap and collagen content. Finally, we show evidence of myocardial infarcts and cardiac dysfunction in Akt1(-/-ApoE-/-) mice analyzed by immunohistochemistry and echocardiography, respectively.Akt1 is essential for VSMC proliferation, migration, and protection against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. Absence of Akt1 induces features of plaque vulnerability and cardiac dysfunction in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.
Project description:Coronary artery disease, the direct result of atherosclerosis, is the most common cause of death in Western societies. Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) apoptosis occurs during the progression of atherosclerosis and in advanced lesions and promotes plaque necrosis, a common feature of high-risk/vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques. Akt1, a serine/threonine protein kinase, regulates several key endothelial cell and VSMC functions including cell growth, migration, survival, and vascular tone. Although global deficiency of Akt1 results in impaired angiogenesis and massive atherosclerosis, the specific contribution of VSMC Akt1 remains poorly characterized.To investigate the contribution of VSMC Akt1 during atherogenesis and in established atherosclerotic plaques.We generated 2 mouse models in which Akt1 expression can be suppressed specifically in VSCMs before (Apoe(-/-)Akt1(fl/fl)Sm22?(CRE)) and after (Apoe(-/-)Akt1(fl/fl)SM-MHC-CreER(T2E)) the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. This approach allows us to interrogate the role of Akt1 during the initial and late steps of atherogenesis. The absence of Akt1 in VSMCs during the progression of atherosclerosis results in larger atherosclerotic plaques characterized by bigger necrotic core areas, enhanced VSMC apoptosis, and reduced fibrous cap and collagen content. In contrast, VSMC Akt1 inhibition in established atherosclerotic plaques does not influence lesion size but markedly reduces the relative fibrous cap area in plaques and increases VSMC apoptosis.Akt1 expression in VSMCs influences early and late stages of atherosclerosis. The absence of Akt1 in VSMCs induces features of plaque vulnerability including fibrous cap thinning and extensive necrotic core areas. These observations suggest that interventions enhancing Akt1 expression specifically in VSMCs may lessen plaque progression.
Project description:Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) apoptosis contributes to atherosclerotic plaque instability and myocardial infarction. Consequently, reducing VSMC apoptosis may be beneficial for reducing plaque instability and acute coronary events. We previously demonstrated that N-cadherin, a cell-cell adhesion molecule, reduces VSMC apoptosis in vitro. In this study, we examined whether a soluble form of N-cadherin (SNC) affected VSMC apoptosis and plaque stability.SNC significantly inhibited VSMC apoptosis in vitro by approximately 50% via activation of fibroblast growth factor receptor, phosphoinositide-3 kinase, and Akt signaling. SNC also significantly reduced macrophage and foam cell-macrophage apoptosis in vitro by >50%, without affecting monocyte invasion or macrophage proliferation. Elevation of plasma levels of SNC in male apolipoprotein E-deficient mice with existing atherosclerosis via adenoviral delivery significantly reduced VSMC and macrophage apoptosis in brachiocephalic artery plaques by approximately 60%. Additionally, SNC promoted plaques of a more stable phenotype by elevating VSMC:macrophage ratio and presence of VSMC-rich fibrous cap, as well as attenuating macrophage number and incidence of buried fibrous caps (a surrogate plaque rupture marker).In summary, this study demonstrates that SNC suppressed plaque instability by attenuation of apoptosis, suggesting that SNC may have a therapeutic potential for retarding plaque instability.
Project description:Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signaling is important for the maintenance of plaque stability in atherosclerosis due to its effects on vascular smooth muscle cell (vSMC) phenotype. To investigate this hypothesis, we studied the effects of the highly inflammatory milieu of the atherosclerotic plaque on IGF-1 signaling and stability-related phenotypic parameters of murine vSMCs in vitro, and the effects of IGF-1 supplementation on plaque phenotype in an atherosclerotic mouse model. M1-polarized, macrophage-conditioned medium inhibited IGF-1 signaling by ablating IGF-1 and increasing IGF-binding protein 3, increased vSMC apoptosis, and decreased proliferation. Expression of ?-actin and col3a1 genes was strongly attenuated by macrophage-conditioned medium, whereas expression of matrix-degrading enzymes was increased. Importantly, all of these effects could be corrected by supplementation with IGF-1. In vivo, treatment with the stable IGF-1 analog Long R3 IGF-1 in apolipoprotein E knockout mice reduced stenosis and core size, and doubled cap/core ratio in early atherosclerosis. In advanced plaques, Long R3 IGF-1 increased the vSMC content of the plaque by more than twofold and significantly reduced the rate of intraplaque hemorrhage. We believe that IGF-1 in atherosclerotic plaques may have a role in preventing plaque instability, not only by modulating smooth muscle cell turnover, but also by altering smooth muscle cell phenotype.
Project description:RATIONALE:Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) accumulation is a hallmark of atherosclerosis and vascular injury. However, fundamental aspects of proliferation and the phenotypic changes within individual VSMCs, which underlie vascular disease, remain unresolved. In particular, it is not known whether all VSMCs proliferate and display plasticity or whether individual cells can switch to multiple phenotypes. OBJECTIVE:To assess whether proliferation and plasticity in disease is a general characteristic of VSMCs or a feature of a subset of cells. METHODS AND RESULTS:Using multicolor lineage labeling, we demonstrate that VSMCs in injury-induced neointimal lesions and in atherosclerotic plaques are oligoclonal, derived from few expanding cells. Lineage tracing also revealed that the progeny of individual VSMCs contributes to both alpha smooth muscle actin (aSma)-positive fibrous cap and Mac3-expressing macrophage-like plaque core cells. Costaining for phenotypic markers further identified a double-positive aSma+ Mac3+ cell population, which is specific to VSMC-derived plaque cells. In contrast, VSMC-derived cells generating the neointima after vascular injury generally retained the expression of VSMC markers and the upregulation of Mac3 was less pronounced. Monochromatic regions in atherosclerotic plaques and injury-induced neointima did not contain VSMC-derived cells expressing a different fluorescent reporter protein, suggesting that proliferation-independent VSMC migration does not make a major contribution to VSMC accumulation in vascular disease. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrate that extensive proliferation of a low proportion of highly plastic VSMCs results in the observed VSMC accumulation after injury and in atherosclerotic plaques. Therapeutic targeting of these hyperproliferating VSMCs might effectively reduce vascular disease without affecting vascular integrity.
Project description:Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are one of the main cellular determinants in arterial pathology. A large body of evidence indicates that death of VSMCs is associated with features of high-risk/vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques. Mitochondrial turnover is an essential aspect of the mitochondrial quality control in which dysfunctional mitochondria are selectively eliminated through autophagy and replaced through expansion of preexisting mitochondria. Even though successful autophagy promotes VSMC survival, it is unclear whether reduced autophagic flux affects mitochondrial quality control of VSMCs in atherosclerotic plaques. By using apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice carrying a VSMC-specific deletion of the essential autophagy gene Atg7, we show in the present study that impaired VSMC autophagy promotes an unstable plaque phenotype, as well as the accumulation of fragmented mitochondria with reduced bioenergetic efficiency and more oxidative stress. Furthermore, we demonstrate that disrupted autophagic flux is linked to defective mitophagy and biogenesis of mitochondria, which exacerbate VSMC apoptosis and in turn plaque vulnerability. Overall, our data indicate that mitochondrial quality control is a promising therapeutic target to stabilize atherosclerotic plaques.
Project description:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play a key role in atherogenesis. However, mechanisms regulating expansion and fate of pre-existing SMCs in atherosclerotic plaques remain poorly defined. Here we show that multiple SMC progenitors mix to form the aorta during development. In contrast, during atherogenesis, a single SMC gives rise to the smooth muscle-derived cells that initially coat the cap of atherosclerotic plaques. Subsequently, highly proliferative cap cells invade the plaque core, comprising the majority of plaque cells. Reduction of integrin ?3 (Itgb3) levels in SMCs induces toll-like receptor 4 expression and thereby enhances Cd36 levels and cholesterol-induced transdifferentiation to a macrophage-like phenotype. Global Itgb3 deletion or transplantation of Itgb3(-/-) bone marrow results in recruitment of multiple pre-existing SMCs into plaques. Conditioned medium from Itgb3-silenced macrophages enhances SMC proliferation and migration. Together, our results suggest SMC contribution to atherogenesis is regulated by integrin ?3-mediated pathways in both SMCs and bone marrow-derived cells.
Project description:Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are central players in carotid atherosclerosis plaque development. Although the precise mechanisms involved in plaque destabilization are not completely understood, it is known that VSMC proliferation and migration participate in plaque stabilization. In this study, we analyzed expression patterns of genes involved in carotid atherosclerosis development (e.g., transcription factors of regulation of SMC genes) of VSMCs located inside or outside the plaque lesion that may give clues about changes in phenotypic plasticity during atherosclerosis. VSMCs were isolated from 39 carotid plaques extracted from symptomatic and asymptomatic patients by endarterectomy. Specific biomarker expression, related with VSMC phenotype, was analyzed by qPCR, western immunoblot, and confocal microscopy. MYH11, CNN1, SRF, MKL2, and CALD1 were significantly underexpressed in VSMCs from plaques compared with VSMCs from a macroscopically intact (MIT) region, while SPP1, KLF4, MAPLC3B, CD68, and LGALS3 were found significantly upregulated in plaque VSMCs versus MIT VSMCs. The gene expression pattern of arterial VSMCs from a healthy donor treated with 7-ketocholesterol showed high similarity with the expression pattern of carotid plaque VSMCs. Our results indicate that VSMCs isolated from plaque show a typical SMC dedifferentiated phenotype with macrophage-like features compared with VSMCs isolated from a MIT region of the carotid artery. Additionally, MYH11, KLF5, and SPP1 expression patterns were found to be associated with symptomatology of human carotid atherosclerosis.
Project description:Clinical complications of atherosclerosis arise primarily as a result of luminal obstruction due to atherosclerotic plaque growth, with inadequate outward vessel remodeling and plaque destabilization leading to rupture. IL-1 is a proinflammatory cytokine that promotes atherogenesis in animal models, but its role in plaque destabilization and outward vessel remodeling is unclear. The studies presented herein show that advanced atherosclerotic plaques in mice lacking both IL-1 receptor type I and apolipoprotein E (Il1r1?/?Apoe?/? mice) unexpectedly exhibited multiple features of plaque instability as compared with those of Il1r1?/?Apoe?/? mice. These features included reduced plaque SMC content and coverage, reduced plaque collagen content, and increased intraplaque hemorrhage. In addition, the brachiocephalic arteries of Il1r1?/?Apoe?/? mice exhibited no difference in plaque size, but reduced vessel area and lumen size relative to controls, demonstrating a reduction in outward vessel remodeling. Interestingly, expression of MMP3 was dramatically reduced within the plaque and vessel wall of Il1r1?/?Apoe?/? mice, and Mmp3?/?Apoe?/? mice showed defective outward vessel remodeling compared with controls. In addition, MMP3 was required for IL-1-induced SMC invasion of Matrigel in vitro. Taken together, these results show that IL-1 signaling plays a surprising dual protective role in advanced atherosclerosis by promoting outward vessel remodeling and enhancing features of plaque stability, at least in part through MMP3-dependent mechanisms.