We previously established that vascular smooth muscle–derived adventitial progenitor cells (AdvSca1-SM) preferentially differentiate into myofibroblasts and contribute to fibrosis in response to acute vascular injury. However, the role of these progenitor cells in chronic atherosclerosis has not been defined. Using an AdvSca1-SM cell lineage tracing model, scRNA-Seq, flow cytometry, and histological approaches, we confirmed that AdvSca1-SM–derived cells localized throughout the vessel wall and atherosclerotic plaques, where they primarily differentiated into fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells (SMC), or remained in a stem-like state. Krüppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) knockout specifically in AdvSca1-SM cells induced transition to a more collagen-enriched fibroblast phenotype compared with WT mice. Additionally, Klf4 deletion drastically modified the phenotypes of non–AdvSca1-SM–derived cells, resulting in more contractile SMC and atheroprotective macrophages. Functionally, overall plaque burden was not altered with Klf4 deletion, but multiple indices of plaque composition complexity, including necrotic core area, macrophage accumulation, and fibrous cap thickness, were reduced. Collectively, these data support that modulation of AdvSca1-SM cells through KLF4 depletion confers increased protection from the development of potentially unstable atherosclerotic plaques.
Allison M. Dubner, Sizhao Lu, Austin J. Jolly, Keith A. Strand, Marie F. Mutryn, Tyler Hinthorn, Tysen Noble, Raphael A. Nemenoff, Karen S. Moulton, Mark W. Majesky, Mary C.M. Weiser-Evans
Despite strong indications that melanoma interaction with lymphatic vessels actively promotes melanoma progression, the molecular mechanisms are not yet completely understood. To characterize molecular factors of this crosstalk we established human primary lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) co-cultures with human melanoma cell lines. Here, we show that co-culture with melanoma cells induced transcriptomic changes in LECs and led to multiple alterations in their function. WNT5B, a paracrine signaling molecule upregulated in melanoma cells upon LEC interaction, was found contributing to the functional changes in LECs. Moreover, WNT5B transcription was regulated by Notch3 in melanoma cells following the co-culture with LECs, and Notch3 and WNT5B were coexpressed in melanoma patient primary tumor and metastasis samples. Moreover, melanoma cells derived from LEC co-culture escaped efficiently from the primary site to the proximal tumor draining lymph nodes, which was impaired upon WNT5B depletion. This supported the role of WNT5B in promoting the metastatic potential of melanoma cells through its effects on LECs. Finally, DLL4, a Notch ligand expressed in LECs, was identified as an upstream inducer of the Notch3-WNT5B axis in melanoma. This study elucidated WNT5B as a key molecular factor mediating bi-directional crosstalk between melanoma cells and lymphatic endothelium and promoting melanoma metastasis.
Sanni Alve, Silvia Gramolelli, Joonas Jukonen, Susanna Juteau, Anne Pink, Atte A. Manninen, Satu Hänninen, Elisa Monto, Madeleine H. Lackman, Olli Carpén, Pipsa Saharinen, Sinem Karaman, Kari Vaahtomeri, Päivi M. Ojala
The lymphatic vasculature is the natural pathway for the resolution of inflammation, while the role of pulmonary lymphatic drainage function in sepsis-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) remains poorly characterized. In this study, Indocyanine green (ICG)-Near Infrared (NIR) lymphatic living imaging was performed to examine pulmonary lymphatic drainage function in septic mice models. We found that the pulmonary lymphatic drainage was impaired owing to the damaged lymphatic structure in sepsis-induced ARDS. Moreover, prior lymphatic defects by blocking vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR3), worsened sepsis-induced lymphatic dysfunction and inflammation. The post-treatment of vascular endothelial growth factor-C (Cys156Ser) (VEGF-C156S), a ligand of VEGFR3, ameliorated lymphatic drainage through rejuvenating lymphatics to reduce the pulmonary edema and promote pulmonary macrophages and neutrophils to drain to pretracheal lymph nodes (pLNs). Meanwhile, VEGF-C156S post-treatment reversed sepsis-inhibited C-C motif chemokine ligand 21 (CCL21), which co-localizes with the pulmonary lymphatic vessels. Furthermore, the advantages of VEGF-C156S on the drainage of inflammatory cells and edema fluid were abolished by blocking VEGFR3 or CCL21. These results suggest that efficient pulmonary lymphatic drainage is necessary for inflammation resolution in ARDS. Our findings offer a novel therapeutic approach to sepsis-induced ARDS by promoting lymphatic drainage function.
Pu-hong Zhang, Wen-wu Zhang, Shun-shun Wang, Cheng-hua Wu, Yang-dong Ding, Xin-yi Wu, Fang Gao Smith, Yu Hao, Sheng-wei Jin
Microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II (MOPDII) is caused by biallelic loss-of-function variants in pericentrin (PCNT), and premature coronary artery disease (CAD) is a complication of the syndrome. Histopathology of coronary arteries from patients with MOPDII who died of CAD in their 20s showed extensive atherosclerosis. Hyperlipidemic mice with smooth muscle cell–specific (SMC-specific) Pcnt deficiency (PcntSMC–/–) exhibited significantly greater atherosclerotic plaque burden compared with similarly treated littermate controls despite similar serum lipid levels. Loss of PCNT in SMCs induced activation of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) and consequently upregulated the expression and activity of HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis. The increased cholesterol biosynthesis in PcntSMC–/– SMCs augmented PERK signaling and phenotypic modulation compared with control SMCs. Treatment with the HMGCR inhibitor, pravastatin, blocked the augmented SMC modulation and reduced plaque burden in hyperlipidemic PcntSMC–/– mice to that of control mice. These data support the notion that Pcnt deficiency activates cellular stress to increase SMC modulation and plaque burden, and targeting this pathway with statins in patients with MOPDII has the potential to reduce CAD in these individuals. The molecular mechanism uncovered further emphasizes SMC cytosolic stress and HSF1 activation as a pathway driving atherosclerotic plaque formation independently of cholesterol levels.
Suravi Majumder, Abhijnan Chattopadhyay, Jamie M. Wright, Pujun Guan, L. Maximilian Buja, Callie S. Kwartler, Dianna M. Milewicz
Acute lung injury (ALI) and its most severe form, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), cause severe endothelial dysfunction in the lung, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is elevated in ARDS. We found that the levels of a VEGF-regulated microRNA, microRNA-1 (miR-1), were reduced in the lung endothelium after acute injury. Pulmonary endothelial cell–specific (EC-specific) overexpression of miR-1 protected the lung against cell death and barrier dysfunction in both murine and human models and increased the survival of mice after pneumonia-induced ALI. miR-1 had an intrinsic protective effect in pulmonary and other types of ECs; it inhibited apoptosis and necroptosis pathways and decreased capillary leak by protecting adherens and tight junctions. Comparative gene expression analysis and RISC recruitment assays identified miR-1 targets in the context of injury, including phosphodiesterase 5A (PDE5A), angiopoietin-2 (ANGPT2), CNKSR family member 3 (CNKSR3), and TNF-α–induced protein 2 (TNFAIP2). We validated miR-1–mediated regulation of ANGPT2 in both mouse and human ECs and found that in a 119-patient pneumonia cohort, miR-1 correlated inversely with ANGPT2. These findings illustrate a previously unknown role of miR-1 as a cytoprotective orchestrator of endothelial responses to acute injury with prognostic and therapeutic potential.
Asawari Korde, Maria Haslip, Prachi Pednekar, Alamzeb Khan, Maurizio Chioccioli, Sameet Mehta, Francesc Lopez-Giraldez, Santos Bermejo, Mauricio Rojas, Charles Dela Cruz, Michael A. Matthay, Jordan S. Pober, Richard W. Pierce, Shervin S. Takyar
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a life-threatening disease characterized by a progressive narrowing of pulmonary arterioles. Although VEGF is highly expressed in lung of patients with PH and in animal PH models, the involvement of angiogenesis remains elusive. To clarify the pathophysiological function of angiogenesis in PH, we compared the angiogenic response in hypoxia (Hx) and SU5416 (a VEGFR2 inhibitor) plus Hx (SuHx) mouse PH models using 3D imaging. The 3D imaging analysis revealed an angiogenic response in the lung of the Hx-PH, but not of the severer SuHx-PH model. Selective VEGFR2 inhibition with cabozantinib plus Hx in mice also suppressed angiogenic response and exacerbated Hx-PH to the same extent as SuHx. Expression of endothelial proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) increased along with angiogenesis in lung of Hx-PH but not SuHx mice. In pulmonary endothelial cell–specific Ppargc1a-KO mice, the Hx-induced angiogenesis was suppressed, and PH was exacerbated along with increased oxidative stress, cellular senescence, and DNA damage. By contrast, treatment with baicalin, a flavonoid enhancing PGC-1α activity in endothelial cells, ameliorated Hx-PH with increased Vegfa expression and angiogenesis. Pulmonary endothelial PGC-1α–mediated angiogenesis is essential for adaptive responses to Hx and might represent a potential therapeutic target for PH.
Takayuki Fujiwara, Norifumi Takeda, Hironori Hara, Satoshi Ishii, Genri Numata, Hiroyuki Tokiwa, Manami Katoh, Sonoko Maemura, Takaaki Suzuki, Hiroshi Takiguchi, Tomonobu Yanase, Yoshiaki Kubota, Seitaro Nomura, Masaru Hatano, Kazutaka Ueda, Mutsuo Harada, Haruhiro Toko, Eiki Takimoto, Hiroshi Akazawa, Hiroyuki Morita, Satoshi Nishimura, Issei Komuro
Inadequate adaption to mechanical forces, including blood pressure, contributes to development of arterial aneurysms. Recent studies have pointed to a mechano-protective role of YAP and TAZ in vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Here, we identified reduced expression of YAP1 in human aortic aneurysms. Vascular SMC-specific knockouts (KOs) of YAP/TAZ were thus generated using the novel integrin α8 (Itga8)-Cre mouse model (i8-YT-KO). i8-YT-KO mice spontaneously developed aneurysms in the abdominal aorta within two weeks of knockout induction and in smaller arteries at later times. The vascular specificity of the Itga8-Cre circumvented gastrointestinal effects. Aortic aneurysms were characterized by elastin disarray, SMC apoptosis, and accumulation of proteoglycans and immune cell populations. RNA-sequencing, proteomics, and myography demonstrated decreased contractile differentiation of SMCs and impaired vascular contractility. This associated with partial loss of myocardin expression, reduced blood pressure, and edema. Mediators in the inflammatory cGAS-STING pathway, were increased. A sizeable increase of SOX9, along with several direct target genes, including aggrecan (Acan), contributed to proteoglycan accumulation. This was the earliest detectable change, occurring three days after knockout induction and before the pro-inflammatory transition. In conclusion, Itga8-Cre deletion of YAP and TAZ represents a rapid and spontaneous aneurysm model that recapitulates features of human abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Marycarmen Arévalo Martínez, Olivia Ritsvall, Joakim A. Bastrup, Selvi Celik, Gabriel Jakobsson, Fatima Daoud, Christopher Winqvist, Anders Aspberg, Catarina Rippe, Lars Maegdefessel, Alexandru Schiopu, Thomas A. Jepps, Johan Holmberg, Karl Swärd, Sebastian Albinsson
Specific and efficient smooth muscle cell (SMC)-targeted gene deletion is typically achieved by pairing SMMHC-CreERT2-Tg mice with mice carrying the loxP-flanked gene. However, the transgene, CreERT2, is not controlled by the endogenous Myh11 gene promoter, and the codon-modified iCreERT2 exhibits significant tamoxifen-independent leakage. Furthermore, because the Cre-bearing Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) is inserted onto the Y chromosome, the SMMHC-CreERT2-Tg mice strain can only exhibit gene deletions in male mice. Additionally, there is a lack of Myh11-driven constitutive Cre mice when tamoxifen usage is a concern. We used CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homologous recombination between a donor vector carrying the 1) CreNLSP2A or 2) CreERT2-P2A sequence and homologous arm surrounding the translation start site of the Myh11 gene to generate Cre knock-in mice. The P2A sequence enables the simultaneous translation of Cre and endogenous proteins. Using reporter mice, we assessed Cre-mediated recombination efficiency, specificity, tamoxifen-dependent controllability, and functionality in both sexes. Both constitutive (Myh11-CreNLSP2A) and inducible (Myh11-CreERT2-P2A) Cre mice demonstrated efficient, SMC-specific, sex-independent Cre recombinase activity without confounding endogenous gene expression. Combined with recently generated BAC transgenic Myh11-CreERT2-RAD mice and the Itga8-CreERT2 mouse models, our new models will help expand the research toolbox, facilitating unbiased and comprehensive research in SMCs and SMC-dependent cardiovascular diseases.
Yang Zhao, Guizhen Zhao, Ziyi Chang, Tianqing Zhu, Ying Zhao, Haocheng Lu, Chao Xue, Thomas L. Saunders, Yanhong Guo, Lin Chang, Y. Eugene Chen, Jifeng Zhang
Kawasaki disease (KD) is the leading cause of acquired heart disease among children. Increased platelet counts and activation are observed during the course of KD, and elevated platelet counts are associated with higher risks of developing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) resistance and coronary artery (CA) aneurysms. However, the role of platelets in KD pathogenesis remains unclear. Here, we analyzed transcriptomics data generated from the whole blood of KD patients and discovered changes in the expression of platelet-related genes during acute KD. In the Lactobacillus casei cell wall extract (LCWE) murine model of KD vasculitis, LCWE injection increased platelet counts and the formation of monocyte-platelet aggregates (MPAs), upregulated the concentration of soluble P-selectin, and increased circulating thrombopoietin (TPO) and interleukin (IL)-6. Furthermore, platelet counts correlated with the severity of cardiovascular inflammation. Genetic depletion of platelets (mpl–/– mice) or treatment with anti-CD42b antibody led to a significant reduction of LCWE-induced cardiovascular lesions. Furthermore, in the mouse model, platelets promoted vascular inflammation via the formation of MPAs, which amplify IL-1β production. Altogether, our results indicate that platelet activation exacerbates the development of cardiovascular lesions in a murine model of KD vasculitis. These findings enhance our understanding of KD vasculitis pathogenesis and highlight MPAs, which are known to enhance IL-1β production, as a potential therapeutic target for this disorder.
Begüm Kocatürk, Youngho Lee, Nobuyuki Nosaka, Masanori Abe, Daisy Martinon, Malcolm E. Lane, Debbie Moreira, Shuang Chen, Michael C. Fishbein, Rebecca A. Porritt, Bernardo S. Franklin, Magali Noval Rivas, Moshe Arditi
Patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) and diabetes constitute a high risk population for development of critical limb ischemia (CLI) and amputation, although the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Comparison of dysregulated microRNAs from diabetic human subjects with PAD and diabetic mice with limb ischemia revealed the conserved microRNA, miR-130b-3p. In vitro angiogenic assays demonstrated miR-130b rapidly promoted proliferation, migration, and sprouting in endothelial cells (ECs), whereas miR-130b inhibition exerted anti-angiogenic effects. Local delivery of miR-130b mimics into ischemic muscles of diabetic mice (db/db) following femoral artery ligation (FAL) promoted revascularization by increasing angiogenesis and markedly improved limb necrosis and amputation. RNA-sequencing, and gene set enrichment analysis from miR-130b overexpressing ECs revealed the BMP / TGF-b signaling pathway as one of the top dysregulated pathways. Accordingly, overlapping downregulated transcripts from RNA-seq and miRNA prediction algorithms identified that miR-130b directly targeted and repressed the TGF-b superfamily member inhibin-b-A (INHBA). miR-130b overexpression or siRNA-mediated knockdown of INHBA induced IL-8 expression, a potent angiogenic chemokine. Lastly, ectopic delivery of silencer RNAs (siRNA) targeting Inhba in db/db ischemic muscles following FAL improved revascularization and limb necrosis, recapitulating the phenotype of miR-130b delivery. Taken together, a miR-130b-INHBA signaling axis may provide therapeutic targets for patients with PAD and diabetes at risk of developing CLI.
Henry S. Cheng, Daniel Pérez-Cremades, Rulin Zhuang, Anurag Jamaiyar, Winona W. Wu, Jingshu Chen, Aspasia Tzani, Lauren Stone, Jorge Plutzky, Terence E. Ryan, Philip P. Goodney, Mark A. Creager, Marc S. Sabatine, Marc P. Bonaca, Mark W. Feinberg
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