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Circular RNA suppression of vascular smooth muscle apoptosis through the miR-545-3p/CKAP4 axis during abdominal aortic aneurysm formation.

Vascular Medicine 2023 Februrary 28
BACKGROUND: Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are an important cause of cardiovascular deaths. The loss of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) has been reported to be related to the pathology of AAA. This study focused on investigating the function of circ_0002168 in VSMC apoptosis.

METHODS: Levels of genes and proteins were measured by quantitative real-time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot. The growth of VSMCs was determined by using cell counting kit-8 assay, 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) assay, flow cytometry and the evaluation of caspase-3 activity analysis, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production as well as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity. The binding between miR-545-3p and circ_0002168 or Cytoskeleton-associated protein 4 (CKAP4) was confirmed by bioinformatics analysis, dual-luciferase reporter, RNA immunoprecipitation, and pull-down assays.

RESULTS: Circ_0002168 decreased in the aortic tissues of patients with AAA. Functionally, ectopic overexpression of circ_0002168 dramatically induced proliferation and suppressed apoptosis in VSMCs. Mechanistically, circ_0002168 sequestered miR-545-3p to release CKAP4 expression via the ceRNA mechanism, indicating the circ_0002168/miR-545-3p/CKAP4 feedback loop in VSMCs. Increased miR-545-3p and a decreased CKAP4 expression were observed in patients with AAA. Rescue experiments showed that miR-545-3p reversed the protective effects of circ_0002168 on VSMC proliferation. Moreover, inhibition of miR-545-3p could restrain the apoptosis of VSMCs, which was abolished by CKAP4 silencing.

CONCLUSION: Circ_0002168 has a protective effect on VSMC proliferation by regulating the miR-545-3p/CKAP4 axis, adding further understanding of the pathogenesis of AAA and a potential therapeutic approach in AAA management.

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