Expression of CYR61, an angiogenic immediate early gene, in arteriosclerosis and its regulation by angiotensin II

Andres Hilfiker, Denise Hilfiker-Kleiner, Martin Fuchs, Karol Kaminski, Artur Lichtenberg, Hermann-Josef Rothkötter, Bernhard Schieffer, Helmut Drexler
Circulation 2002 July 9, 106 (2): 254-60

BACKGROUND: The renin-angiotensin system is thought to be involved in development and progression of arteriosclerosis, thereby contributing to adverse cardiovascular events. To elucidate the role of angiotensin II (Ang II) at a cellular level, we analyzed the Ang II-induced gene expression profile.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Genes induced on Ang II stimulation (10(-7) mol/L, 45 minutes) in rat smooth muscle cells were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction selected subtraction. In addition to known genes, such as interleukin 6, leukemia inhibitory factor, and c-fos, we identified CYR61, an angiogenic immediate early gene. Northern blot analysis revealed a rapid 2.5-fold increase of CYR61 transcript levels by Ang II, peaking at 30 minutes, which was blunted by Ang II type 1 receptor blockade. Exposure of rat aortic rings to Ang II (30 minutes) revealed a 2-fold, and intraperitoneal injection of Ang II (30 minutes) in mice a 3-fold, increase of aortic CYR61 transcripts. In arteriosclerotic aortas of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice, CYR61 transcripts confirmed by in situ hybridization and proteins shown by immunohistochemistry were elevated, whereas they were hardly detectable in wild types. In human carotid atherectomies and arteriosclerotic coronary arteries, immunohistochemical analysis revealed expression of CYR61 within connective tissue in neointima, adventitia, and surrounding small capillaries and blood vessels, colocalized with ACE and Ang II. Normal human arteries showed no significant staining for CYR61.

CONCLUSIONS: CYR61, an angiogenic factor, is induced by Ang II in vascular cells and tissue. The expression of CYR61, colocalized with Ang II and ACE, in small vessels of human arteriosclerotic lesions is consistent with the notion that the activated renin-angiotensin system may contribute to plaque neovascularization by enhancing regulators of microvessel formation and cell proliferation.

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