Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) are characterized by chronic inflammation, which contributes to the pathological remodeling of the extracellular matrix. Although mechanical stress has been suggested to promote inflammation in AAA, the molecular mechanism remains uncertain. Periostin is a matricellular protein known to respond to mechanical strain. The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of periostin in mechanotransduction in the pathogenesis of AAA.
Methods and Results
We found significant increases in periostin protein levels in the walls of human AAA specimens. Tissue localization of periostin was associated with inflammatory cell infiltration and destruction of elastic fibers. We examined whether mechanical strain could stimulate periostin expression in cultured rat vascular smooth muscle cells. Cells subjected to 20% uniaxial cyclic strains showed significant increases in periostin protein expression, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activation, and secretions of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and the active form of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2. These changes were largely abolished by a periostin-neutralizing antibody and by the FAK inhibitor, PF573228. Interestingly, inhibition of either periostin or FAK caused suppression of the other, indicating a positive feedback loop. In human AAA tissues in ex vivo culture, MCP-1 secretion was dramatically suppressed by PF573228. Moreover, in vivo, periaortic application of recombinant periostin in mice led to FAK activation and MCP-1 upregulation in the aortic walls, which resulted in marked cellular infiltration.
Our findings indicated that periostin plays an important role in mechanotransduction that maintains inflammation via FAK activation in AAA.
The purpose of this study was to determine effects of amlodipine, a dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker, on development of angiotensin II (AngII)-induced vascular pathologies.
Methods and Results
Male LDL receptor -/- mice were infused with vehicle, amlodipine (5 mg/kg/d), AngII (1,000 ng/kg/min), or AngII + amlodipine for 4 weeks through osmotic pumps (n=10/group). Mice were fed a saturated fat-enriched diet for 1 week prior to pump implantation and during 4 weeks of infusion. Infusion of amlodipine resulted in plasma concentrations of 32 ± 2 ng/ml and 27 ± 2 ng/ml for mice in saline + amlodipine and AngII + amlodipine groups, respectively. This infusion rate of amlodipine did not affect AngII-induced increases in systolic blood pressure. Three of 10 (30%) mice infused with AngII died of aortic rupture, while aortic rupture did not occur in mice co-infused with AngII + amlodipine. Suprarenal aortic width and intimal area of ascending aortas were measured to define aortic aneurysms. In the absence of AngII infusion, amlodipine did not change suprarenal aortic width and ascending aortic area. Infusion of AngII led to profound increases of suprarenal aortic width (saline + vehicle versus AngII + vehicle: 0.86 ± 0.02 versus 1.72 ± 0.26 mm; P=0.0006), whereas co-infusion of AngII and amlodipine diminished abdominal dilation (1.02 ± 0.14 mm; P=0.003). As expected, AngII infusion increased mean intimal area of ascending aortas (saline + vehicle versus AngII + vehicle: 8.5 ± 0.3 versus 12.5 ± 1.1 mm2; P=0.001), while co-infusion of AngII and amlodipine ablated dilation of the ascending aorta (8.6 ± 0.2 mm2; P=0.03). Co-administration of amlodipine also significantly attenuated AngII-induced atherosclerosis in the thoracic region as quantified by percent lesion area (AngII + vehicle versus AngII + amlodipine: 5.8 ± 2.1 % versus 0.3 ± 0.1%; P=0.05).
Amlodipine inhibited AngII-induced aortic aneurysms in both the abdominal and ascending regions, and atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic mice.
Editorials; atherosclerosis; chronic kidney disease; endoplasmic reticulum stress; inflammation; intimal and medial calcification
Recently, partial ligation of the common carotid artery (CCA) was reported to induce carotid atheromata rapidly in apolipoprotein-E knockout (ApoE-/-) mice. We investigated this new atherosclerosis model by using combined matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP) near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) imaging and macrophage-tracking luciferase imaging.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Partial ligation of the left CCA was performed in 10-week-old ApoE-/- mice on a high fat diet (n=33); the internal and external carotid arteries and occipital artery were ligated, while the superior thyroid artery was left intact. Two thirds of the animals were treated with either LiCl or atorvastatin. At 1-week, Raw264.7 macrophages modified to express the enhanced firefly-luciferase reporter gene (107 Raw-luc cells) were injected intravenously. At 2-week, NIRF molecular imaging visualized strong MMP-2/9 activity in the ligated area of the left CCA as well as in the aortic arch. Left-to-right ratios of the NIRF signal intensities in the CCA had a decreasing gradient from the highest value in the upper-most ligated area to the lowest value in the lower-most region adjacent to the aortic arch. Luciferase imaging showed that most Raw-luc macrophages were recruited to the ligated area of the CCA rather than to the aortic arch, despite similarly strong MMP-2/9-related NIRF signal intensities in both areas. In addition, LiCl or atorvastatin could reduce MMP-2/9 activity in the aortic arch but not in the ligated area of the CCA.
This is the first molecular imaging study to characterize the partial ligation-induced carotid atherosclerosis model. Molecularly divergent types of atherosclerosis were identified: conventional lipogenic atherosclerosis in the aorta vs. flow-related mechanical atherosclerosis in the partially ligated left system.
Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) is a circulating regulator of phosphate and vitamin D metabolism and is associated with coronary artery calcification, and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to determine whether circulating FGF23 concentration is independently associated with the severity and extent of coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography.
A cross-sectional design was used to examine the relationship between serum FGF23 and the severity and extent of coronary artery stenosis in 2076 patients undergoing coronary angiography (1263 male and 813 female, mean aged 62.5 years). Subgroup analyses were performed to assess the associations between FGF23 and coronary arterial plaque characteristics evaluated by intravascular ultrasound and 12-month incidence of target vessel revascularization (TVR) and target lesion revascularization (TLR).
We found a stepwise increase of serum FGF23 concentrations in patients with mild, moderate, severe stenosis or with increased number of stenotic vessels compared with those without stenosis (P<0.001). Serum FGF23 concentration was positively correlated with stenosis scores as the global index of the severity and extent of coronary artery stenosis in both male and female (r = 0.315 and r = 0.291, P<0.001). In multiple regression analyses, serum FGF23 concentration was a significant determinant of the stenosis scores independent of other traditional risk factors (standardized β = 0.326, P<0.001). Furthermore, subgroup analyses found FGF23 was significantly associated with plaque and dense calcium volumes. Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that serum FGF23 levels were significantly independent predictors of TVR and TLR.
We report an independent association between circulating FGF23 concentration and the severity and extent of coronary artery stenosis in the coronary angiographic patients. Future studies are needed to elucidate the potential biological mechanisms and whether FGF23 is a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor.
Valvular interstitial cells (VICs) are the main population of cells found in cardiac valves. These resident fibroblastic cells play important roles in maintaining proper valve function, and their dysregulation has been linked to disease progression in humans. Despite the critical functions of VICs, their cellular composition is still not well defined for humans and other mammals. Given the limited availability of healthy human valves and the similarity in valve structure and function between humans and pigs, we characterized porcine VICs (pVICs) based on expression of cell surface proteins and sorted a specific subpopulation of pVICs to study its functions. We found that small percentages of pVICs express the progenitor cell markers ABCG2 (~5%), NG2 (~5%) or SSEA-4 (~7%), whereas another subpopulation (~5%) expresses OB–CDH, a type of cadherin expressed by myofibroblasts or osteo-progenitors. pVICs isolated from either aortic or pulmonary valves express most of these protein markers at similar levels. Interestingly, OB–CDH, NG2 and SSEA-4 all label distinct valvular subpopulations relative to each other; however, NG2 and ABCG2 are co-expressed in the same cells. ABCG2+ cells were further characterized and found to deposit more calcified matrix than ABCG2- cells upon osteogenic induction, suggesting that they may be involved in the development of osteogenic VICs during valve pathology. Cell profiling based on flow cytometry and functional studies with sorted primary cells provide not only new and quantitative information about the cellular composition of porcine cardiac valves, but also contribute to our understanding of how a subpopulation of valvular cells (ABCG2+ cells) may participate in tissue repair and disease progression.
Rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque is a key event in the development of cardiovascular disorders, in which matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) plays a crucial role by degradation of extracellular matrix resulting in plaque instability. Cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1), a member of interleukin-6-type proinflammatory cytokines, has potent cardiovascular actions and is highly expressed in vascular endothelium, however its role in atherosclerosis has not been fully elucidated to date. The present study was designed to investigate whether CT-1 induces MMP-1 in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). Ribonuclease protection assay demonstrated that MMP-1 gene level in HAECs was enhanced by the treatment of CT-1 in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Immunocytochemical staining, Western immunoblot analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay revealed that CT-1 augmented MMP-1 protein synthesis and secretion. MMP-1 activity assay revealed that MMP-1 present in the supernatant of HAECs was exclusively precursor form. Casein zymography disclosed proteolytic activity in the supernatant of HAECs, which was enhanced by CT-1 treatment. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibitor study indicated the important roles of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2, p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling pathways in mediating CT-1-induced MMP-1 gene and protein expression. These data reveal for the first time that CT-1 induces the proteolytic potential in HAECs by upregulating MMP-1 expression through ERK1/2, p38 MAP kinase, JNK and JAK/STAT pathways, and suggest that CT-1 may play an important role in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and plaque instability.
The expression of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) is enhanced in human atherosclerotic and calcific vascular lesions. While genetic gain- and loss-of-function experiments in mice have supported a causal role of BMP signaling in atherosclerosis and vascular calcification, it remains uncertain whether BMP signaling might be targeted pharmacologically to ameliorate both of these processes.
Methods and Results
We tested the impact of pharmacologic BMP inhibition upon atherosclerosis and calcification in low density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (LDLR−/−) mice. LDLR−/− mice fed a high-fat diet developed abundant vascular calcification within twenty weeks. Prolonged treatment of LDLR−/− mice with the small molecule BMP inhibitor LDN-193189 was well-tolerated and potently inhibited development of atheroma, as well as associated vascular inflammation, osteogenic activity, and calcification. Administration of recombinant BMP antagonist ALK3-Fc replicated the anti-atherosclerotic and anti-inflammatory effects of LDN-193189. Treatment of human aortic endothelial cells with LDN-193189 or ALK3-Fc abrogated the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by oxidized LDL, a known early event in atherogenesis. Unexpectedly, treatment of mice with LDN-193189 lowered LDL serum cholesterol by 35% and markedly decreased hepatosteatosis without inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase activity. Treatment with BMP2 increased, whereas LDN-193189 or ALK3-Fc inhibited apolipoprotein B100 secretion in HepG2 cells, suggesting that BMP signaling contributes to the regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis.
These results definitively implicate BMP signaling in atherosclerosis and calcification, while uncovering a previously unidentified role for BMP signaling in LDL cholesterol metabolism. BMP inhibition may be helpful in the treatment of atherosclerosis and associated vascular calcification.
atherosclerosis; inflammation; lipoproteins; hypercholesterolemia
Transcription factors LXRs, PPARs, and SREBPs have been implicated in a multitude of physiological and pathological processes including atherogenesis. However, little is known about the regulation of these transcription factors at different stages of atherosclerosis progression. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to compare the contents of mRNAs in pairs intact-injured aorta fragments taken from the same donors. Only minor changes in LXRα, LXRβ, PPARα, PPARγ, SREBP1, and SREBP2 mRNA levels were found in initial lesions as compared with intact non-diseased tissue. The contents of all mRNAs but SREBP2 mRNA were found to be progressively up-regulated in fatty streaks and fibrous lipoid plaques. These changes were only partially reproduced in cultured macrophages upon lipid loading. Wave-shaped changes in abundance of correlations between given group of mRNAs and 28 atherosclerosis-related mRNA species in the course of atherogenesis were observed. The impact of specific mRNA correlations on the total correlations also significantly varied between different lesion types. The study suggests that the extent and forms of LXR/PPAR/SREBP participation in intima functions vary nonlinear in individual fashion in atherogenesis. We speculate that the observed changes in mRNAs expression and coupling reflect shifts in lipid ligands availability and cellular composition in the course of atherosclerosis progression.
AT2 receptors have an unclear function on development of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs), although a pharmacological approach using the AT2 receptor antagonist PD123319 has implicated a role. The purpose of the present study was to determine the role of AT2 receptors in AngII-induced AAAs using a combination of genetic and pharmacological approaches. We also defined effects of AT2 receptors in AngII-induced atherosclerosis and thoracic aortic aneurysms.
Methods and Results
Male AT2 receptor wild type (AT2 +/y) and deficient (AT2 -/y) mice in an LDL receptor −/− background were fed a saturated-fat enriched diet, and infused with either saline or AngII (500 ng/kg/min). AT2 receptor deficiency had no significant effect on systolic blood pressure during AngII-infusion. While AngII infusion induced AAAs, AT2 receptor deficiency did not significantly affect either maximal width of the suprarenal aorta or incidence of AAAs. The AT2 receptor antagonist PD123319 (3 mg/kg/day) and AngII were co-infused into male LDL receptor −/− mice that were either AT2 +/y or −/y. PD123319 had no significant effect on systolic blood pressure in either wild type or AT2 receptor deficient mice. Consistent with our previous findings, PD123319 increased AngII-induced AAAs. However, this effect of PD123319 occurred irrespective of AT2 receptor genotype. Neither AT2 receptor deficiency nor PD123319 had any significant effect on AngII-induced thoracic aortic aneurysms or atherosclerosis.
AT2 receptor deficiency does not affect AngII-induced AAAs, thoracic aortic aneurysms and atherosclerosis. PD123319 augments AngII-induced AAAs through an AT2 receptor-independent mechanism.
In hypertensive patients with indication of renal arteriography to investigate renal artery stenosis (RAS) there are no recommendations regarding when to investigate coronary artery disease (CAD). Moreover, the predictors of CAD in patients with RAS are not clear. We aimed to evaluate the frequency and the determinants of CAD in hypertensive patients referred to renal angiography. Eighty-two consecutive patients with high clinical risk suggesting the presence of RAS systematically underwent renal angiography and coronary angiography during the same procedure. Significant arterial stenosis was defined by an obstruction≥70% to both renal and coronary territories. Significant CAD was present in 32/82 (39%) and significant RAS in 32/82 (39%) patients. Both CAD and RAS were present in 25.6% from the 82 patients. Patients with severe CAD were older (63±12 vs. 56±13 years; p = 0.03) and had more angina (41 vs. 16%; p = 0.013) compared to patients without severe CAD. Significant RAS was associated with an increased frequency of severe CAD compared to patients without significant RAS (66% vs. 22%, respectively; p<0.001). Myocardial scintigraphy showed ischemia in 21.8% of the patients with CAD. Binary logistic regression analysis showed that RAS≥70% was independently associated with CAD≥70% (OR: 11.48; 95% CI 3.2–40.2; p<0.001), even in patients without angina (OR: 13.48; 95%CI 2.6–12.1; p<0.001). Even considering a small number of patients with significant RAS, we conclude that in hypertensive patients referred to renal angiography, RAS≥70% may be a strong predictor of severe CAD, independently of angina, and dual investigation should be considered.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a common disease among elderly individuals. However, the precise pathophysiology of AAA remains unknown. In AAA, an intraluminal thrombus prevents luminal perfusion of oxygen, allowing only the adventitial vaso vasorum (VV) to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the aortic wall. In this study, we examined changes in the adventitial VV wall in AAA to clarify the histopathological mechanisms underlying AAA. We found marked intimal hyperplasia of the adventitial VV in the AAA sac; further, immunohistological studies revealed proliferation of smooth muscle cells, which caused luminal stenosis of the VV. We also found decreased HemeB signals in the aortic wall of the sac as compared with those in the aortic wall of the neck region in AAA. The stenosis of adventitial VV in the AAA sac and the malperfusion of the aortic wall observed in the present study are new aspects of AAA pathology that are expected to enhance our understanding of this disease.
Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) is expressed in endothelial cells in the developing heart, particularly in areas of high shear stress, such as the atrioventricular (AV) canal. KLF2 ablation leads to myocardial thinning, high output cardiac failure and death by mouse embryonic day 14.5 (E14.5) in a mixed genetic background. This work identifies an earlier and more fundamental role for KLF2 in mouse cardiac development in FVB/N mice. FVB/N KLF2−/− embryos die earlier, by E11.5. E9.5 FVB/N KLF2−/− hearts have multiple, disorganized cell layers lining the AV cushions, the primordia of the AV valves, rather than the normal single layer. By E10.5, traditional and endothelial-specific FVB/N KLF2−/− AV cushions are hypocellular, suggesting that the cells accumulating at the AV canal have a defect in endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT). E10.5 FVB/N KLF2−/− hearts have reduced glycosaminoglycans in the cardiac jelly, correlating with the reduced EMT. However, the number of mesenchymal cells migrating from FVB/N KLF2−/− AV explants into a collagen matrix is reduced considerably compared to wild-type, suggesting that the EMT defect is not due solely to abnormal cardiac jelly. Echocardiography of E10.5 FVB/N KLF2−/− embryos indicates that they have abnormal heart function compared to wild-type. E10.5 C57BL/6 KLF2−/− hearts have largely normal AV cushions. However, E10.5 FVB/N and C57BL/6 KLF2−/− embryos have a delay in the formation of the atrial septum that is not observed in a defined mixed background. KLF2 ablation results in reduced Sox9, UDP-glucose dehydrogenase (Ugdh), Gata4 and Tbx5 mRNA in FVB/N AV canals. KLF2 binds to the Gata4, Tbx5 and Ugdh promoters in chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, indicating that KLF2 could directly regulate these genes. In conclusion, KLF2−/− heart phenotypes are genetic background-dependent. KLF2 plays a role in EMT through its regulation of important cardiovascular genes.
Vesiclepedia is a community-annotated compendium of molecular data on extracellular vesicles.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membraneous vesicles released by a variety of cells into their microenvironment. Recent studies have elucidated the role of EVs in intercellular communication, pathogenesis, drug, vaccine and gene-vector delivery, and as possible reservoirs of biomarkers. These findings have generated immense interest, along with an exponential increase in molecular data pertaining to EVs. Here, we describe Vesiclepedia, a manually curated compendium of molecular data (lipid, RNA, and protein) identified in different classes of EVs from more than 300 independent studies published over the past several years. Even though databases are indispensable resources for the scientific community, recent studies have shown that more than 50% of the databases are not regularly updated. In addition, more than 20% of the database links are inactive. To prevent such database and link decay, we have initiated a continuous community annotation project with the active involvement of EV researchers. The EV research community can set a gold standard in data sharing with Vesiclepedia, which could evolve as a primary resource for the field.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is an important risk factor for coronary artery disease. However, its localization in human coronary plaques is not well understood. The present study was performed to visualize LDL in human coronary artery wall.
(1) The fluorescence characteristic of LDL was investigated by color fluorescent microscopy (CFM) with excitation at 470-nm and emission at 515-nm using Nile blue dye (NB) as a biomarker. (2) Native LDL in 40 normal segments, 42 white plaques and 35 yellow plaques (20 with necrotic core) of human coronary arteries was investigated by color fluorescent angioscopy (CFA) and CFM.
(1) NB elicited a brown, golden and red fluorescence characteristic of LDL, apolipoprotein B-100, and lysophosphatidylcholine/triglyceride, respectively. (2) The % incidence of LDL in normal segments, white, and yellow plaques was 25, 38 and 14 by CFA and 42, 42 and 14 by CFM scan of their luminal surface, respectively, indicating lower incidence (p<0.05) of LDL in yellow plaques than white plaques, and no significant differences in detection sensitivity between CFA and CFM. By CFM transected surface scan, LDL deposited more frequently and more diffusely in white plaques and yellow plaques without necrotic core (NC) than normal segments and yellow plaques with NC. LDL was localized to fibrous cap in yellow plaques with NC. Co-deposition of LDL with other lipid components was observed frequently in white plaques and yellow plaques without NC.
(1) Taken into consideration of the well-known process of coronary plaque growth, the results of the present study suggest that LDL begins to deposit before plaque formation; increasingly deposits with plaque growth, often co-depositing with other lipid components; and disappears after necrotic core formation. (2) CFA is feasible for visualization of LDL in human coronary artery wall.
Evidence has linked collagen loss with the onset of acute coronary events.
This study tested the hypothesis that selective MMP-13 collagenase inhibition increases collagen content in already established and nascent mouse atheromata.
Methods and Results
In vitro and in situ experiments documented the selectivity and efficacy of an orally available MMP-13 inhibitor (MMP13i-A). In vivo observations monitored macrophage accumulation and MMP-13 activity using molecular imaging. After 10 weeks of MMP13i-A treatment, apoE-/- mice with evolving or established lesions exhibited reduced MMP-13 activity without affecting macrophage content, measured either by intravital microscopy or fluorescence reflectance imaging. Histological analysis indicated that MMP13-iA did not affect plaque size, or macrophage or smooth-muscle cell accumulation. Administration of MMP13i-A to mice with evolving or established atheromata substantially increased plaque interstitial collagen content in the intima and locally in the fibrous cap, compared to vehicle-treated controls. Analysis of collagen revealed thicker collagen fibers within the plaques of treated groups.
Pharmacological MMP-13 inhibition yields collagen accumulation in plaques (a feature associated in humans with resistance to rupture), even in established plaques. This study of considerable clinical relevance furnishes new mechanistic insight into regulation of the plaque's extracellular matrix, and validates molecular imaging for studying plaque biology.
atherosclerosis; MMP-13; inhibitor; collagen; molecular imaging
The bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most common congenital cardiac anomaly and is frequently associated with calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD). The most prevalent type-I morphology, which results from left-/right-coronary cusp fusion, generates different hemodynamics than a tricuspid aortic valve (TAV). While valvular calcification has been linked to genetic and atherogenic predispositions, hemodynamic abnormalities are increasingly pointed as potential pathogenic contributors. In particular, the wall shear stress (WSS) produced by blood flow on the leaflets regulates homeostasis in the TAV. In contrast, WSS alterations cause valve dysfunction and disease. While such observations support the existence of synergies between valvular hemodynamics and biology, the role played by BAV WSS in valvular calcification remains unknown. The objective of this study was to isolate the acute effects of native BAV WSS abnormalities on CAVD pathogenesis. Porcine aortic valve leaflets were subjected ex vivo to the native WSS experienced by TAV and type-I BAV leaflets for 48 hours. Immunostaining, immunoblotting and zymography were performed to characterize endothelial activation, pro-inflammatory paracrine signaling, extracellular matrix remodeling and markers involved in valvular interstitial cell activation and osteogenesis. While TAV and non-coronary BAV leaflet WSS essentially maintained valvular homeostasis, fused BAV leaflet WSS promoted fibrosa endothelial activation, paracrine signaling (2.4-fold and 3.7-fold increase in BMP-4 and TGF-β1, respectively, relative to fresh controls), catabolic enzyme secretion (6.3-fold, 16.8-fold, 11.7-fold, 16.7-fold and 5.5-fold increase in MMP-2, MMP-9, cathepsin L, cathepsin S and TIMP-2, respectively) and activity (1.7-fold and 2.4-fold increase in MMP-2 and MMP-9 activity, respectively), and bone matrix synthesis (5-fold increase in osteocalcin). In contrast, BAV WSS did not significantly affect α-SMA and Runx2 expressions and TIMP/MMP ratio. This study demonstrates the key role played by BAV hemodynamic abnormalities in CAVD pathogenesis and suggests the dependence of BAV vulnerability to calcification on the local degree of WSS abnormality.
Valve interstitial cells populate aortic valve cusps and have been implicated in aortic valve calcification. Here we investigate a common in vitro model for aortic valve calcification by characterizing nodule formation in porcine aortic valve interstitial cells (PAVICs) cultured in osteogenic (OST) medium supplemented with transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1). Using a combination of materials science and biological techniques, we investigate the relevance of PAVICs nodules in modeling the mineralised material produced in calcified aortic valve disease. PAVICs were grown in OST medium supplemented with TGF-β1 (OST+TGF-β1) or basal (CTL) medium for up to 21 days. Murine calvarial osteoblasts (MOBs) were grown in OST medium for 28 days as a known mineralizing model for comparison. PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 produced nodular structures staining positive for calcium content; however, micro-Raman spectroscopy allowed live, noninvasive imaging that showed an absence of mineralized material, which was readily identified in nodules formed by MOBs and has been identified in human valves. Gene expression analysis, immunostaining, and transmission electron microscopy imaging revealed that PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 medium produced abundant extracellular matrix via the upregulation of the gene for Type I Collagen. PAVICs, nevertheless, did not appear to further transdifferentiate to osteoblasts. Our results demonstrate that ‘calcified’ nodules formed from PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 medium do not mineralize after 21 days in culture, but rather they express a myofibroblast-like phenotype and produce a collagen-rich extracellular matrix. This study clarifies further the role of PAVICs as a model of calcification of the human aortic valve.
Vitamin K-antagonists (VKA) are treatment of choice and standard care for patients with venous thrombosis and thromboembolic risk. In experimental animal models as well as humans, VKA have been shown to promote medial elastocalcinosis. As vascular calcification is considered an independent risk factor for plaque instability, we here investigated the effect of VKA on coronary calcification in patients and on calcification of atherosclerotic plaques in the ApoE−/− model of atherosclerosis.
A total of 266 patients (133 VKA users and 133 gender and Framingham Risk Score matched non-VKA users) underwent 64-slice MDCT to assess the degree of coronary artery disease (CAD). VKA-users developed significantly more calcified coronary plaques as compared to non-VKA users. ApoE−/− mice (10 weeks) received a Western type diet (WTD) for 12 weeks, after which mice were fed a WTD supplemented with vitamin K1 (VK1, 1.5 mg/g) or vitamin K1 and warfarin (VK1&W; 1.5 mg/g & 3.0 mg/g) for 1 or 4 weeks, after which mice were sacrificed. Warfarin significantly increased frequency and extent of vascular calcification. Also, plaque calcification comprised microcalcification of the intimal layer. Furthermore, warfarin treatment decreased plaque expression of calcification regulatory protein carboxylated matrix Gla-protein, increased apoptosis and, surprisingly outward plaque remodeling, without affecting overall plaque burden.
VKA use is associated with coronary artery plaque calcification in patients with suspected CAD and causes changes in plaque morphology with features of plaque vulnerability in ApoE−/− mice. Our findings underscore the need for alternative anticoagulants that do not interfere with the vitamin K cycle.
Activation of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) contributes importantly to inflammation and atherogenesis. We previously reported that apolipoprotein CIII (apoCIII), found abundantly on circulating triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, enhances adhesion of human monocytes to ECs in vitro. Statins may exert lipid-independent anti-inflammatory effects. The present study examined whether statins suppress apoCIII-induced EC activation in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and results
Physiologically relevant concentrations of purified human apoCIII enhanced attachment of the monocyte-like cell line THP-1 to human saphenous vein ECs (HSVECs) or human coronary artery ECs (HCAECs) under both static and laminar shear stress conditions. This process mainly depends on vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), as a blocking VCAM-1 antibody abolished apoCIII-induced monocyte adhesion. ApoCIII significantly increased VCAM-1 expression in HSVECs and HCAECs. Pre-treatment with statins suppressed apoCIII-induced VCAM-1 expression and monocyte adhesion, with two lipophilic statins (pitavastatin and atorvastatin) exhibiting inhibitory effects at lower concentration than those of hydrophilic pravastatin. Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) mediated apoCIII-induced VCAM-1 expression, as demonstrated via loss-of-function experiments, and pitavastatin treatment suppressed NF-κB activation. Furthermore, in the aorta of hypercholesterolaemic Ldlr−/− mice, pitavastatin administration in vivo suppressed VCAM-1 mRNA and protein, induced by apoCIII bolus injection. Similarly, in a subcutaneous dorsal air pouch mouse model of leucocyte recruitment, apoCIII injection induced F4/80+ monocyte and macrophage accumulation, whereas pitavastatin administration reduced this effect.
These findings further establish the direct role of apoCIII in atherogenesis and suggest that anti-inflammatory effects of statins could improve vascular disease in the population with elevated plasma apoCIII.
Apolipoprotein CIII; Vascular endothelial cells; Monocytes; HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors; Atherosclerosis
Statin- and exercise-therapy are both clinically beneficial by preventing cardiovascular events in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). However, there is no information on the vascular effects of the combination of statins and exercise on arterial wall stiffness in CAD patients.
The present study is a sub-analysis of PRESET study that determined the effects of 20-week treatment with statins (rosuvastatin, n = 14, atorvastatin, n = 14) combined with regular exercise on arterial wall stiffness assessed by measurement of brachial and ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) in CAD patients.
The combination of statins and regular exercise significantly improved exercise capacity, lipid profile, including low- and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), baPWV (baseline: 1747±355, at 20 weeks of treatment: 1627±271 cm/s, p = 0.008), and basophil count (baseline: 42±32, 20 weeks: 26±15 cells/µL, p = 0.007), but had no effect on blood pressure (baseline: 125±22, 20 weeks: 121±16 mmHg). Changes in baPWV correlated significantly with changes in basophil count (r = 0.488, p = 0.008), but not with age, lipids profile, exercise capacity, or hs-CRP.
In CAD patients, the combination treatment with statins and exercise resulted in significant amelioration of arterial wall stiffness, at least in part, through reduction of circulating basophils.
Detecting and quantifying the severity of mitral regurgitation is essential for risk stratification and clinical decision-making regarding timing of surgery. Our objective was to assess specific visual parameters by cine-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the determination of the severity of mitral regurgitation and to compare it to previously validated imaging modalities: echocardiography and cardiac ventriculography.
The study population consisted of 68 patients who underwent a cardiac MRI followed by an echocardiogram within a median time of 2.0 days and 49 of these patients who had a cardiac catheterization, median time of 2.0 days. The inter-rater agreement statistic (Kappa) was used to evaluate the agreement.
There was moderate agreement between cine MRI and Doppler echocardiography in assessing mitral regurgitation severity, with a kappa value of 0.47, confidence interval (CI) 0.29–0.65. There was also fair agreement between cine MRI and cardiac catheterization with a kappa value of 0.36, CI of 0.17–0.55.
Cine MRI offers a reasonable alternative to both Doppler echocardiography and, to a lesser extent, cardiac catheterization for visually assessing the severity of mitral regurgitation with specific visual parameters during routine clinical cardiac MRI.