Iron deficiency promotes aortic medial degeneration via destructing cytoskeleton of vascular smooth muscle cells

Bowen Li, Zhiwei Wang, Junmou Hong, Yanjia Che, Ruoshi Chen, Zhipeng Hu, Xiaoping Hu, Qi Wu, Junxia Hu, Min Zhang
Clinical and Translational Medicine 2021, 11 (1): e276

BACKGROUND: Aortic dissection (AD) and aortic aneurysm (AA) are critical illnesses with an unclear pathogenetic mechanism that seriously threaten human life. Aortic medial degeneration (AMD) is the main pathological feature of AD and AA. Diseases of iron metabolism can cause a variety of physiological dysfunctions. In this study, we aimed to clarify the state of iron metabolism in patients with AD and AA, and to explore the effect of iron metabolism on AMD.

METHODS: A total of 200 patients with AD or AA, and 60 patients with hypertension were included in the study. Blood samples were drawn immediately when patients were admitted to the hospital. Aortic specimens from patients with Stanford type A AD were obtained at the time of surgery. The status of iron metabolism in the circulation and the aortic wall was analyzed. In addition, apolipoprotein E knockout mice were fed chow with a different iron content, and angiotensin II (Ang II) was used to induce AMD. Furthermore, transferrin receptor 1 knockout (TFR1-/-) mice were used to study the effects of iron deficiency (ID) on aortic development, to observe the effects of different iron metabolism status on the formation of AMD in mice, and to explore the cytoskeleton of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) under different iron metabolism.

RESULTS: Patients with AMD were iron deficient. ID is associated with the development of AMD in hypertensive patients. Iron-deficient feeding combined with Ang II pumping promoted the formation of AMD and significantly shortened the survival time of mice. ID significantly impaired the cytoskeleton of VSMCs.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results highlighted that ID was associated with the formation of AMD in patients with hypertension. In this study, we identified a novel mechanism behind VSMCs dysfunction that was induced by ID, thereby suggesting iron homeostasis as a future precaution in patients with hypertension based on its important role in the maintenance of VSMC function.

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