Inhibition of Smooth Muscle β-Catenin Hinders Neointima Formation After Vascular Injury

Dario F Riascos-Bernal, Prameladevi Chinnasamy, Jordana N Gross, Vanessa Almonte, Lander Egaña-Gorroño, Dippal Parikh, Smitha Jayakumar, Liang Guo, Nicholas E S Sibinga
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2017, 37 (5): 879-888

OBJECTIVE: Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) contribute to neointima formation after vascular injury. Although β-catenin expression is induced after injury, whether its function is essential in SMCs for neointimal growth is unknown. Moreover, although inhibitors of β-catenin have been developed, their effects on SMC growth have not been tested. We assessed the requirement for SMC β-catenin in short-term vascular homeostasis and in response to arterial injury and investigated the effects of β-catenin inhibitors on vascular SMC growth.

APPROACH AND RESULTS: We used an inducible, conditional genetic deletion of β-catenin in SMCs of adult mice. Uninjured arteries from adult mice lacking SMC β-catenin were indistinguishable from controls in terms of structure and SMC marker gene expression. After carotid artery ligation, however, vessels from mice lacking SMC β-catenin developed smaller neointimas, with lower neointimal cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. SMCs lacking β-catenin showed decreased mRNA expression of Mmp2 , Mmp9 , Sphk1 , and S1pr1 (genes that promote neointima formation), higher levels of Jag1 and Gja1 (genes that inhibit neointima formation), decreased Mmp2 protein expression and secretion, and reduced cell invasion in vitro. Moreover, β-catenin inhibitors PKF118-310 and ICG-001 limited growth of mouse and human vascular SMCs in a dose-dependent manner.

CONCLUSIONS: SMC β-catenin is dispensable for maintenance of the structure and state of differentiation of uninjured adult arteries, but is required for neointima formation after vascular injury. Pharmacological β-catenin inhibitors hinder growth of human vascular SMCs. Thus, inhibiting β-catenin has potential as a therapy to limit SMC accumulation and vascular obstruction.

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