Cantu Syndrome (CS) is a complex disorder caused by gain-of-function (GoF) mutations in ABCC9 and KCNJ8, which encode the SUR2 and Kir6.1 subunits, respectively, of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) KATP channels. CS includes dilated vasculature, marked cardiac hypertrophy, and other cardiovascular abnormalities. There is currently no targeted therapy, and it is unknown whether cardiovascular features can be reversed once manifest. Using combined transgenic and pharmacological approaches in a knock-in mouse model of CS, we have shown that reversal of vascular and cardiac phenotypes can be achieved (1) by genetic downregulation of KATP channel activity specifically in VSM, and (2) by chronic administration of the clinically-used KATP channel inhibitor, glibenclamide. These findings demonstrate (i) that VSM KATP channel GoF underlies CS cardiac enlargement, (ii) reversibility of CS-associated abnormalities and (iii) evidence of in vivo efficacy of glibenclamide as a therapeutic agent in CS.
Conor McClenaghan, Yan Huang, Zihan Yan, Theresa Harter, Carmen M. Halabi, Rod Chalk, Attila Kovacs, Gijs van Haaften, Maria S. Remedi, Colin G. Nichols
Fibronectin–splice variant containing extra domain A (Fn-EDA) is associated with smooth muscle cells (SMCs) following vascular injury. The role of SMC-derived Fn-EDA in SMC phenotypic switching or its implication in neointimal hyperplasia remains unclear. Herein, using human coronary artery sections with a bare metal stent, we demonstrate the expression of Fn-EDA in the vicinity of SMC-rich neointima and peri-strut areas. In mice, Fn-EDA colocalizes with SMCs in the neointima of injured carotid arteries and promotes neointima formation in the comorbid condition of hyperlipidemia by potentiating SMC proliferation and migration. No sex-based differences were observed. Mechanistic studies suggested that Fn-EDA mediates integrin- and TLR4-dependent proliferation and migration through activation of FAK/Src and Akt1/mTOR signaling, respectively. Specific deletion of Fn-EDA in SMCs, but not in endothelial cells, reduced intimal hyperplasia and suppressed the SMC synthetic phenotype concomitant with decreased Akt1/mTOR signaling. Targeting Fn-EDA in human aortic SMCs suppressed the synthetic phenotype and downregulated Akt1/mTOR signaling. These results reveal that SMC-derived Fn-EDA potentiates phenotypic switching in human and mouse aortic SMCs and neointimal hyperplasia in the mouse. We suggest that targeting Fn-EDA could be explored as a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce neointimal hyperplasia.
Manish Jain, Nirav Dhanesha, Prakash Doddapattar, Mehul R. Chorawala, Manasa K. Nayak, Anne Cornelissen, Liang Guo, Aloke V. Finn, Steven R. Lentz, Anil K. Chauhan
Background: Ceramides are sphingolipids that play causative roles in diabetes and heart disease, with their serum levels measured clinically as biomarkers of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Methods: We performed targeted lipidomics on serum samples of individuals with familial coronary artery disease (CAD) (n = 462) and population-based controls (n = 212) to explore the relationship between serum sphingolipids and CAD, employing unbiased machine learning to identify sphingolipid species positively associated with CAD. Results: Nearly every sphingolipid measured (n = 30 of 32) was significantly elevated in subjects with CAD compared with population controls. We generated a novel Sphingolipid Inclusive CAD risk score, termed SIC, that demarcates CAD patients independently and more effectively than conventional clinical CVD biomarkers including LDL-cholesterol and serum triglycerides. This new metric comprises several minor lipids which likely serve as measures of flux through the ceramide biosynthesis pathway, rather than the abundant deleterious ceramide species that are incorporated in other ceramide-based scores. Conclusion: This study validates serum ceramides as candidate biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and suggests that comprehensive sphingolipid panels be considered as measures of CVD.
Annelise M. Poss, J. Alan Maschek, James E. Cox, Benedikt J. Hauner, Paul N. Hopkins, Steven C. Hunt, William L. Holland, Scott A. Summers, Mary C. Playdon
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and secondary pulmonary embolism cause approximately 100,000 deaths per year in the United States. Physical immobility is the most significant risk factor for DVT, but a molecular and cellular basis for this link has not been defined. We found that the endothelial cells surrounding the venous valve, where DVTs originate, express high levels of FOXC2 and PROX1, transcription factors known to be activated by oscillatory shear stress. The perivalvular venous endothelial cells exhibited a powerful antithrombotic phenotype characterized by low levels of the prothrombotic proteins vWF, P-selectin, and ICAM1 and high levels of the antithrombotic proteins thrombomodulin (THBD), endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR), and tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). The perivalvular antithrombotic phenotype was lost following genetic deletion of FOXC2 or femoral artery ligation to reduce venous flow in mice, and at the site of origin of human DVT associated with fatal pulmonary embolism. Oscillatory blood flow was detected at perivalvular sites in human veins following muscular activity, but not in the immobile state or after activation of an intermittent compression device designed to prevent DVT. These findings support a mechanism of DVT pathogenesis in which loss of muscular activity results in loss of oscillatory shear–dependent transcriptional and antithrombotic phenotypes in perivalvular venous endothelial cells, and suggest that prevention of DVT and pulmonary embolism may be improved by mechanical devices specifically designed to restore perivalvular oscillatory flow.
John D. Welsh, Mark H. Hoofnagle, Sharika Bamezai, Michael Oxendine, Lillian Lim, Joshua D. Hall, Jisheng Yang, Susan Schultz, James Douglas Engel, Tsutomu Kume, Guillermo Oliver, Juan M. Jimenez, Mark L. Kahn
Leptomeningeal anastomoses or pial collateral vessels play a critical role in cerebral blood flow (CBF) restoration following ischemic stroke. The magnitude of this adaptive response is postulated to be controlled by the endothelium, although the underlying molecular mechanisms remain under investigation. Here we demonstrated that endothelial genetic deletion, using EphA4f/f/Tie2-Cre and EphA4f/f/VeCahderin-CreERT2 mice and vessel painting strategies, implicated EphA4 receptor tyrosine kinase as a major suppressor of pial collateral remodeling, CBF and functional recovery following permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion. Pial collateral remodeling is limited by the cross talk between EphA4-Tie2 signaling in vascular endothelial cells, which is mediated through p-Akt regulation. Furthermore, peptide inhibition of EphA4 resulted in acceleration of the pial arteriogenic response. Our findings demonstrate EphA4 is a negative regulator of Tie2 receptor signaling which limits pial collateral arteriogenesis following cerebrovascular occlusion. Therapeutic targeting of EphA4 and/or Tie2 represents an attractive new strategy for improving collateral function, neural tissue health and functional recovery following ischemic stroke.
Benjamin Okyere, William A. Mills III, Xia Wang, Michael Chen, Jiang Chen, Amanda Hazy, Yun Qian, John B. Matson, Michelle H. Theus
Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a genetic bleeding disorder leading to systemic arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the ALK1-ENG-Smad1/5/8 pathway. Evidence suggests that HHT pathogenesis strongly relies on overactivated PI3K-Akt-mTOR and VEGFR2 pathways in endothelial cells (ECs). In the BMP9/10-immunoblocked (BMP9/10ib) neonatal mouse model of HHT, we report here that the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus, and the receptor tyrosine-kinase inhibitor, nintedanib, could synergistically fully block, but also reversed, retinal AVMs to avert retinal bleeding and anemia. Sirolimus plus nintedanib prevented vascular pathology in the oral mucosa, lungs, and liver of the BMP9/10ib mice, as well as significantly reduced gastrointestinal bleeding and anemia in inducible ALK1-deficient adult mice. Mechanistically, in vivo in BMP9/10ib mouse ECs, sirolimus and nintedanib blocked the overactivation of mTOR and VEGFR2, respectively. Furthermore, we found that sirolimus activated ALK2-mediated Smad1/5/8 signaling in primary ECs—including in HHT patient blood outgrowth ECs—and partially rescued Smad1/5/8 activity in vivo in BMP9/10ib mouse ECs. These data demonstrate that the combined correction of endothelial Smad1/5/8, mTOR, and VEGFR2 pathways opposes HHT pathogenesis. Repurposing of sirolimus plus nintedanib might provide therapeutic benefit in HHT patients.
Santiago Ruiz, Haitian Zhao, Pallavi Chandakkar, Julien Papoin, Hyunwoo Choi, Aya Nomura-Kitabayashi, Radhika Patel, Matthew Gillen, Li Diao, Prodyot K. Chatterjee, Mingzhu He, Yousef Al-Abed, Ping Wang, Christine N. Metz, S. Paul Oh, Lionel Blanc, Fabien Campagne, Philippe Marambaud
Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (vEDS) is an autosomal-dominant connective tissue disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in the COL3A1 gene, which encodes the pro-alpha 1 chain of collagen III. Loss of structural integrity of the extracellular matrix is believed to drive the signs and symptoms of this condition, including spontaneous arterial dissection and/or rupture, the major cause of mortality. We created two mouse models of vEDS that carry heterozygous mutations in Col3a1 that encode glycine substitutions analogous to those found in patients, and showed that signaling abnormalities in the PLC/IP3/PKC/ERK pathway (phospholipase C/inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate/protein kinase C/extracellular signal-regulated kinase) are major mediators of vascular pathology.Treatment with pharmacologic inhibitors of ERK1/2 or PKC-beta prevented death due to spontaneous aortic rupture. Additionally, we found that pregnancy- and puberty-associated accentuation of vascular risk, also seen in vEDS patients, is rescued by attenuation of oxytocin and androgen signaling, respectively. Taken together, our results provide evidence that targetable signaling abnormalities contribute to the pathogenesis of vEDS, highlighting unanticipated therapeutic opportunities.
Caitlin J. Bowen, Juan Francisco Calderón Giadrosic, Zachary Burger, Graham Rykiel, Elaine C. Davis, Mark R. Helmers, Kelly Benke, Elena Gallo MacFarlane, Harry C. Dietz
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder with rising incidence. Diseased tissues are heavily vascularized. Surprisingly, the pathogenic impact of the vasculature in IBD and the underlying regulatory mechanisms remain largely unknown. IFN-γ is a major cytokine in IBD pathogenesis, but in the context of the disease, it is almost exclusively its immune-modulatory and epithelial cell–directed functions that have been considered. Recent studies by our group demonstrated that IFN-γ also exerts potent effects on blood vessels. Based on these considerations, we analyzed the vessel-directed pathogenic functions of IFN-γ and found that it drives IBD pathogenesis through vascular barrier disruption. Specifically, we show that inhibition of the IFN-γ response in vessels by endothelial-specific knockout of IFN-γ receptor 2 ameliorates experimentally induced colitis in mice. IFN-γ acts pathogenic by causing a breakdown of the vascular barrier through disruption of the adherens junction protein VE-cadherin. Notably, intestinal vascular barrier dysfunction was also confirmed in human IBD patients, supporting the clinical relevance of our findings. Treatment with imatinib restored VE-cadherin/adherens junctions, inhibited vascular permeability, and significantly reduced colonic inflammation in experimental colitis. Our findings inaugurate the pathogenic impact of IFN-γ–mediated intestinal vessel activation in IBD and open new avenues for vascular-directed treatment of this disease.
Victoria Langer, Eugenia Vivi, Daniela Regensburger, Thomas H. Winkler, Maximilian J. Waldner, Timo Rath, Benjamin Schmid, Lisa Skottke, Somin Lee, Noo Li Jeon, Thomas Wohlfahrt, Viktoria Kramer, Philipp Tripal, Michael Schumann, Stephan Kersting, Claudia Handtrack, Carol I. Geppert, Karina Suchowski, Ralf H. Adams, Christoph Becker, Andreas Ramming, Elisabeth Naschberger, Nathalie Britzen-Laurent, Michael Stürzl
Delayed ischemic neurological deficit (DIND) is a major driver of adverse outcomes in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) defining an unmet need for therapeutic development. Cell-free hemoglobin that is released from erythrocytes into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is suggested to cause vasoconstriction and neuronal toxicity and correlates with the occurrence of DIND. Cell-free hemoglobin in the CSF of patients with aSAH disrupted dilatory NO signaling ex vivo in cerebral arteries, which shifted vascular tone balance from dilation to constriction. We found that selective removal of hemoglobin from patient CSF with a haptoglobin-affinity column or its sequestration in a soluble hemoglobin-haptoglobin complex was sufficient to restore physiological vascular responses. In a sheep model, administration of haptoglobin into the CSF inhibited hemoglobin-induced cerebral vasospasm and preserved vascular NO-signaling. We identified two pathways of hemoglobin delocalization from CSF into the brain parenchyma and into the NO-sensitive compartment of small cerebral arteries. Both pathways were critical for hemoglobin-toxicity and were interrupted by the large hemoglobin-haptoglobin complex that inhibited spatial requirements for hemoglobin reactions with NO in tissues. Collectively, our data show that compartmentalization of hemoglobin by haptoglobin provides a novel framework for innovation aimed at reducing hemoglobin-driven neurological damage after subarachnoid bleeding.
Michael Hugelshofer, Raphael M. Buzzi, Christian A. Schaer, Henning Richter, Kevin Akeret, Vania Anagnostakou, Leila Mahmoudi, Raphael Vaccani, Florence Vallelian, Jeremy W. Deuel, Peter W. Kronen, Zsolt Kulcsar, Luca Regli, Jin Hyen Baek, Ivan S. Pires, Andre F. Palmer, Matthias Dennler, Rok Humar, Paul W. Buehler, Patrick R. Kircher, Emanuela Keller, Dominik J. Schaer
Molecular heterogeneity of endothelial cells underlies their highly-specialized functions during changing physiological conditions within diverse vascular beds. For example, placental spiral arteries (SAs) undergo remarkable remodeling to meet the ever-growing demands of the fetus—a process which is deficient in preeclampsia. The extent to which maternal endothelial cells coordinate with immune cells and pregnancy hormones to promote SA remodeling remains largely unknown. Here we found that remodeled SAs expressed the lymphatic markers PROX1, LYVE1, and VEGFR3, mimicking lymphatic identity. Uterine natural killer (uNK) cells, which are required for SA remodeling and secrete VEGFC, were both sufficient and necessary for VEGFR3 activation in vitro and in mice lacking uNK cells, respectively. Using Flt4Chy/+ mice with kinase inactive VEGFR3 and Vegfcfl/fl;Vav1-Cre mice, we demonstrated that SA remodeling required VEGFR3 signaling, and that disrupted maternal VEGFR3 signaling contributed to late-gestation fetal growth restriction. Collectively, we identified a novel instance of lymphatic mimicry by which maternal endothelial cells promote SA remodeling, furthering our understanding of the vascular heterogeneity employed for the mitigation of pregnancy complications such as fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia.
John B. Pawlak, László Bálint, Lillian Lim, Wanshu Ma, Reema B. Davis, Zoltan Benyo, Michael J. Soares, Guillermo Oliver, Mark L. Kahn, Zoltán Jakus, Kathleen M. Caron