Human vascular malformations cause disease as a result of changes in blood flow and vascular hemodynamic forces. Although the genetic mutations that underlie the formation of many human vascular malformations are known, the extent to which abnormal blood flow can subsequently influence the vascular genetic program and natural history is not. Loss of the SH2 domain–containing leukocyte protein of 76 kDa (SLP76) resulted in a vascular malformation that directed blood flow through mesenteric lymphatic vessels after birth in mice. Mesenteric vessels in the position of the congenital lymphatic in mature Slp76-null mice lacked lymphatic identity and expressed a marker of blood vessel identity. Genetic lineage tracing demonstrated that this change in vessel identity was the result of lymphatic endothelial cell reprogramming rather than replacement by blood endothelial cells. Exposure of lymphatic vessels to blood in the absence of significant flow did not alter vessel identity in vivo, but lymphatic endothelial cells exposed to similar levels of shear stress ex vivo rapidly lost expression of PROX1, a lymphatic fate–specifying transcription factor. These findings reveal that blood flow can convert lymphatic vessels to blood vessels, demonstrating that hemodynamic forces may reprogram endothelial and vessel identity in cardiovascular diseases associated with abnormal flow.
Chiu-Yu Chen, Cara Bertozzi, Zhiying Zou, Lijun Yuan, John S. Lee, MinMin Lu, Stan J. Stachelek, Sathish Srinivasan, Lili Guo, Andres Vincente, Patricia Mericko, Robert J. Levy, Taija Makinen, Guillermo Oliver, Mark L. Kahn
EC activation and dysfunction have been linked to a variety of vascular inflammatory disease states. The function of microRNAs (miRNAs) in vascular EC activation and inflammation remains poorly understood. Herein, we report that microRNA-181b (miR-181b) serves as a potent regulator of downstream NF-κB signaling in the vascular endothelium by targeting importin-α3, a protein that is required for nuclear translocation of NF-κB. Overexpression of miR-181b inhibited importin-α3 expression and an enriched set of NF-κB–responsive genes such as adhesion molecules VCAM-1 and E-selectin in ECs in vitro and in vivo. In addition, treatment of mice with proinflammatory stimuli reduced miR-181b expression. Rescue of miR-181b levels by systemic administration of miR-181b “mimics” reduced downstream NF-κB signaling and leukocyte influx in the vascular endothelium and decreased lung injury and mortality in endotoxemic mice. In contrast, miR-181b inhibition exacerbated endotoxin-induced NF-κB activity, leukocyte influx, and lung injury. Finally, we observed that critically ill patients with sepsis had reduced levels of miR-181b compared with control intensive care unit (ICU) subjects. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that miR-181b regulates NF-κB–mediated EC activation and vascular inflammation in response to proinflammatory stimuli and that rescue of miR-181b expression could provide a new target for antiinflammatory therapy and critical illness.
Xinghui Sun, Basak Icli, Akm Khyrul Wara, Nathan Belkin, Shaolin He, Lester Kobzik, Gary M. Hunninghake, Miguel Pinilla Vera, Timothy S. Blackwell, Rebecca M. Baron, Mark W. Feinberg
Angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2) is a key regulator of angiogenesis that exerts context-dependent effects on ECs. ANG-2 binds the endothelial-specific receptor tyrosine kinase 2 (TIE2) and acts as a negative regulator of ANG-1/TIE2 signaling during angiogenesis, thereby controlling the responsiveness of ECs to exogenous cytokines. Recent data from tumors indicate that under certain conditions ANG-2 can also promote angiogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms of dual ANG-2 functions are poorly understood. Here, we identify a model for the opposing roles of ANG-2 in angiogenesis. We found that angiogenesis-activated endothelium harbored a subpopulation of TIE2-negative ECs (TIE2lo). TIE2 expression was downregulated in angiogenic ECs, which abundantly expressed several integrins. ANG-2 bound to these integrins in TIE2lo ECs, subsequently inducing, in a TIE2-independent manner, phosphorylation of the integrin adaptor protein FAK, resulting in RAC1 activation, migration, and sprouting angiogenesis. Correspondingly, in vivo ANG-2 blockade interfered with integrin signaling and inhibited FAK phosphorylation and sprouting angiogenesis of TIE2lo ECs. These data establish a contextual model whereby differential TIE2 and integrin expression, binding, and activation control the role of ANG-2 in angiogenesis. The results of this study have immediate translational implications for the therapeutic exploitation of angiopoietin signaling.
Moritz Felcht, Robert Luck, Alexander Schering, Philipp Seidel, Kshitij Srivastava, Junhao Hu, Arne Bartol, Yvonne Kienast, Christiane Vettel, Elias K. Loos, Simone Kutschera, Susanne Bartels, Sila Appak, Eva Besemfelder, Dorothee Terhardt, Emmanouil Chavakis, Thomas Wieland, Christian Klein, Markus Thomas, Akiyoshi Uemura, Sergij Goerdt, Hellmut G. Augustin
Nitric oxide (NO) plays an essential role in regulating hypertension and blood flow by inducing relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. Male mice deficient in a NO receptor component, the α1 subunit of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGCα1), are prone to hypertension in some, but not all, mouse strains, suggesting that additional genetic factors contribute to the onset of hypertension. Using linkage analyses, we discovered a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 1 that was linked to mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the context of sGCα1 deficiency. This region is syntenic with previously identified blood pressure–related QTLs in the human and rat genome and contains the genes coding for renin. Hypertension was associated with increased activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Further, we found that RAAS inhibition normalized MAP and improved endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in sGCα1-deficient mice. These data identify the RAAS as a blood pressure–modifying mechanism in a setting of impaired NO/cGMP signaling.
Emmanuel S. Buys, Michael J. Raher, Andrew Kirby, Shahid Mohd, David M. Baron, Sarah R. Hayton, Laurel T. Tainsh, Patrick Y. Sips, Kristen M. Rauwerdink, Qingshang Yan, Robert E.T. Tainsh, Hannah R. Shakartzi, Christine Stevens, Kelly Decaluwé, Maria da Gloria Rodrigues-Machado, Rajeev Malhotra, Johan Van de Voorde, Tong Wang, Peter Brouckaert, Mark J. Daly, Kenneth D. Bloch
Aldosterone, which plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal gland. When dysregulated, aldosterone is pathogenic and contributes to the development and progression of cardiovascular and renal disease. Although sustained production of aldosterone requires persistent Ca2+ entry through low-voltage activated Ca2+ channels, isolated ZG cells are considered nonexcitable, with recorded membrane voltages that are too hyperpolarized to permit Ca2+ entry. Here, we show that mouse ZG cells within adrenal slices spontaneously generate membrane potential oscillations of low periodicity. This innate electrical excitability of ZG cells provides a platform for the production of a recurrent Ca2+ signal that can be controlled by Ang II and extracellular potassium, the 2 major regulators of aldosterone production. We conclude that native ZG cells are electrical oscillators, and that this behavior provides what we believe to be a new molecular explanation for the control of Ca2+ entry in these steroidogenic cells.
Changlong Hu, Craig G. Rusin, Zhiyong Tan, Nick A. Guagliardo, Paula Q. Barrett
Localized tissue hypoxia is a consequence of vascular compromise or rapid cellular proliferation and is a potent inducer of compensatory angiogenesis. The oxygen-responsive transcriptional regulator hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α) is highly expressed in vascular ECs and, along with HIF-1α, activates expression of target genes whose products modulate vascular functions and angiogenesis. However, the mechanisms by which HIF-2α regulates EC function and tissue perfusion under physiological and pathological conditions are poorly understood. Using mice in which Hif2a was specifically deleted in ECs, we demonstrate here that HIF-2α expression is required for angiogenic responses during hindlimb ischemia and for the growth of autochthonous skin tumors. EC-specific Hif2a deletion resulted in increased vessel formation in both models; however, these vessels failed to undergo proper arteriogenesis, resulting in poor perfusion. Analysis of cultured HIF-2α–deficient ECs revealed cell-autonomous increases in migration, invasion, and morphogenetic activity, which correlated with HIF-2α–dependent expression of specific angiogenic factors, including delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4), a Notch ligand, and angiopoietin 2. By stimulating Dll4 signaling in cultured ECs or restoring Dll4 expression in ischemic muscle tissue, we rescued most of the HIF-2α–dependent EC phenotypes in vitro and in vivo, emphasizing the critical role of Dll4/Notch signaling as a downstream target of HIF-2α in ECs. These results indicate that HIF-1α and HIF-2α fulfill complementary, but largely nonoverlapping, essential functions in pathophysiological angiogenesis.
Nicolas Skuli, Amar J. Majmundar, Bryan L. Krock, Rickson C. Mesquita, Lijoy K. Mathew, Zachary L. Quinn, Anja Runge, Liping Liu, Meeri N. Kim, Jiaming Liang, Steven Schenkel, Arjun G. Yodh, Brian Keith, M. Celeste Simon
Hypercholesterolemia is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. It also is associated with platelet hyperactivity, which increases morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanisms by which hypercholesterolemia produces a procoagulant state remain undefined. Atherosclerosis is associated with accumulation of oxidized lipoproteins within atherosclerotic lesions. Small quantities of oxidized lipoproteins are also present in the circulation of patients with coronary artery disease. We therefore hypothesized that hypercholesterolemia leads to elevated levels of oxidized LDL (oxLDL) in plasma and that this induces expression of the procoagulant protein tissue factor (TF) in monocytes. In support of this hypothesis, we report here that oxLDL induced TF expression in human monocytic cells and monocytes. In addition, patients with familial hypercholesterolemia had elevated levels of plasma microparticle (MP) TF activity. Furthermore, a high-fat diet induced a time-dependent increase in plasma MP TF activity and activation of coagulation in both LDL receptor–deficient mice and African green monkeys. Genetic deficiency of TF in bone marrow cells reduced coagulation in hypercholesterolemic mice, consistent with a major role for monocyte-derived TF in the activation of coagulation. Similarly, a deficiency of either TLR4 or TLR6 reduced levels of MP TF activity. Simvastatin treatment of hypercholesterolemic mice and monkeys reduced oxLDL, monocyte TF expression, MP TF activity, activation of coagulation, and inflammation, without affecting total cholesterol levels. Our results suggest that the prothrombotic state associated with hypercholesterolemia is caused by oxLDL-mediated induction of TF expression in monocytes via engagement of a TLR4/TLR6 complex.
A. Phillip Owens III, Freda H. Passam, Silvio Antoniak, Stephanie M. Marshall, Allison L. McDaniel, Lawrence Rudel, Julie C. Williams, Brian K. Hubbard, Julie-Ann Dutton, Jianguo Wang, Peter S. Tobias, Linda K. Curtiss, Alan Daugherty, Daniel Kirchhofer, James P. Luyendyk, Patrick M. Moriarty, Shanmugam Nagarajan, Barbara C. Furie, Bruce Furie, Douglas G. Johns, Ryan E. Temel, Nigel Mackman
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in organs, such as the lungs, intestine, and brain, are characteristic of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a disease caused by mutations in activin-like kinase receptor 1 (ALK1), which is an essential receptor in angiogenesis, or endoglin. Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is an antagonist of BMPs that is highly expressed in lungs and kidneys and is regulated by ALK1. The objective of this study was to determine the role of MGP in the vasculature of the lungs and kidneys. We found that Mgp gene deletion in mice caused striking AVMs in lungs and kidneys, where overall small organ size contrasted with greatly increased vascularization. Mechanistically, MGP deficiency increased BMP activity in lungs. In cultured lung epithelial cells, BMP-4 induced VEGF expression through induction of ALK1, ALK2, and ALK5. The VEGF secretion induced by BMP-4 in Mgp–/– epithelial cells stimulated proliferation of ECs. However, BMP-4 inhibited proliferation of lung epithelial cells, consistent with the increase in pulmonary vasculature at the expense of lung tissue in the Mgp-null mice. Similarly, BMP signaling and VEGF expression were increased in Mgp–/– mouse kidneys. We therefore conclude that Mgp gene deletion is what we believe to be a previously unidentified cause of AVMs. Because lack of MGP also causes arterial calcification, our findings demonstrate that the same gene defect has drastically different effects on distinct vascular beds.
Yucheng Yao, Medet Jumabay, Anthony Wang, Kristina I. Boström
Chronic venous disease and venous hypertension are common consequences of valve insufficiency, yet the molecular mechanisms regulating the formation and maintenance of venous valves have not been studied. Here, we provide what we believe to be the first description of venous valve morphogenesis and identify signaling pathways required for the process. The initial stages of valve development were found to involve induction of ephrin-B2, a key marker of arterial identity, by venous endothelial cells. Intriguingly, developing and mature venous valves also expressed a repertoire of proteins, including prospero-related homeobox 1 (Prox1), Vegfr3, and integrin-α9, previously characterized as specific and critical regulators of lymphangiogenesis. Using global and venous valve–selective knockout mice, we further demonstrate the requirement of ephrin-B2 and integrin-α9 signaling for the development and maintenance of venous valves. Our findings therefore identified molecular regulators of venous valve development and maintenance and highlighted the involvement of common morphogenetic processes and signaling pathways in controlling valve formation in veins and lymphatic vessels. Unexpectedly, we found that venous valve endothelial cells closely resemble lymphatic (valve) endothelia at the molecular level, suggesting plasticity in the ability of a terminally differentiated endothelial cell to take on a different phenotypic identity.
Eleni Bazigou, Oliver T.A. Lyons, Alberto Smith, Graham E. Venn, Celia Cope, Nigel A. Brown, Taija Makinen
Therapies that raise levels of HDL, which is thought to exert atheroprotective effects via effects on endothelium, are being examined for the treatment or prevention of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, the endothelial effects of HDL are highly heterogeneous, and the impact of HDL of patients with CAD on the activation of endothelial eNOS and eNOS-dependent pathways is unknown. Here we have demonstrated that, in contrast to HDL from healthy subjects, HDL from patients with stable CAD or an acute coronary syndrome (HDLCAD) does not have endothelial antiinflammatory effects and does not stimulate endothelial repair because it fails to induce endothelial NO production. Mechanistically, this was because HDLCAD activated endothelial lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor 1 (LOX-1), triggering endothelial PKCβII activation, which in turn inhibited eNOS-activating pathways and eNOS-dependent NO production. We then identified reduced HDL-associated paraoxonase 1 (PON1) activity as one molecular mechanism leading to the generation of HDL with endothelial PKCβII-activating properties, at least in part due to increased formation of malondialdehyde in HDL. Taken together, our data indicate that in patients with CAD, HDL gains endothelial LOX-1– and thereby PKCβII-activating properties due to reduced HDL-associated PON1 activity, and that this leads to inhibition of eNOS-activation and the subsequent loss of the endothelial antiinflammatory and endothelial repair–stimulating effects of HDL.
Christian Besler, Kathrin Heinrich, Lucia Rohrer, Carola Doerries, Meliana Riwanto, Diana M. Shih, Angeliki Chroni, Keiko Yonekawa, Sokrates Stein, Nicola Schaefer, Maja Mueller, Alexander Akhmedov, Georgios Daniil, Costantina Manes, Christian Templin, Christophe Wyss, Willibald Maier, Felix C. Tanner, Christian M. Matter, Roberto Corti, Clement Furlong, Aldons J. Lusis, Arnold von Eckardstein, Alan M. Fogelman, Thomas F. Lüscher, Ulf Landmesser