Peroxynitrous acid-modified extracellular matrix alters gene and protein expression in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and induces a pro-inflammatory phenotype

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Leukocytes produce oxidants at inflammatory sites, including within the artery wall during the development of atherosclerosis. Developing lesions contain high numbers of activated leukocytes that generate reactive nitrogen species, including peroxynitrite/peroxynitrous acid (ONOO/ONOOH), as evidenced by the presence of oxidized/nitrated molecules including extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. ECM materials are critical for arterial wall integrity, function, and determine cell phenotype, with smooth muscle cells undergoing a phenotypic switch from quiescent/contractile to proliferative/synthetic during disease development. We hypothesized that ECM modification by ONOO/ONOOH might drive this switch, and thereby potentially contribute to atherogenesis. ECM generated by primary human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMCs) was treated with increasing ONOO/ONOOH concentrations (1–1000 μM). This generated significant damage on laminin, fibronectin and versican, and lower levels on collagens and glycosaminoglycans, together with the increasing concentrations of the damage biomarker 3-nitrotyrosine. Adhesion of naïve HCASMC to ECM modified by 1 μM ONOO/ONOOH was enhanced, but significantly diminished by higher ONOO/ONOOH treatment. Cell proliferation and metabolic activity were significantly enhanced by 100 μM ONOO/ONOOH pre-treatment. These changes were accompanied by increased expression of genes involved in mitosis (PCNA, CCNA1, CCNB1), ECM (LAMA4, LAMB1, VCAN, FN1) and inflammation (IL-1B, IL-6, VCAM-1), and corresponding protein secretion (except VCAM-1) into the medium. These changes induced by modified ECM are consistent with HCASMC switching to a synthetic/proliferative/pro-inflammatory phenotype, together with ECM remodelling. These changes model those in atherosclerosis, suggesting a link between oxidant-modified ECM and disease progression, and highlight the potential of targeting oxidant generation as a therapeutic strategy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Pages (from-to)43-52
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • 3-Nitrotyrosine, Extracellular matrix, Peroxynitrite, Protein oxidation, Smooth muscle cell, Versican

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