alexa Differentiation patterning of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in atherosclerosis.
Cardiology

Cardiology

Angiology: Open Access

Author(s): Stintzing S

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To investigate the involvement of transdifferentiation and dedifferentiation phenomena inside atherosclerotic plaques, we analyzed the differentiation status of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in vitro and in vivo. Forty normal autoptic and 20 atherosclerotic carotid endarterectomy specimens as well as 20 specimens of infrarenal and suprarenal aortae were analyzed for the expression of cytokeratins 7 and 18 and beta-catenin as markers (epithelial transdifferentiation) as well as CD31 and CD34 (embryonic dedifferentiation) by conventional and double fluorescence immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Looking at these markers, additional cell culture experiments with human aortic (HA)-VSMC were done under stimulation with IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha. Cytokeratins and beta-catenin were expressed significantly higher in atherosclerotic than in normal carotids primarily localized in VSMC of the shoulder/cap region of atherosclerotic lesions. Additionally, heterogeneous cellular coexpression of CD31 and/or CD34 was observed in subregions of progressive atherosclerotic lesions by VSMC. The expression of those differentiation markers by stimulated HA-VSMC showed a time and cytokine dependency in vitro. Our findings show that (1) VSMC of progressive atheromas have the ability of differentiation, (2) that transdifferentiation and dedifferentiation phenomena are topographically diverse localized in the subregions of advanced atherosclerotic lesions, and (3) are influenced by inflammatory cytokines like IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha.

This article was published in Virchows Arch and referenced in Angiology: Open Access

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