c-Kit suppresses atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice

Lei Song, Zachary M. Zigmond, Laisel Martinez, Roberta M. Lassance-Soares, Alejandro E. Macias, Omaida C. Velazquez, Zhao Jun Liu, Alghidak Salama, Keith A. Webster, Roberto I. Vazquez-Padron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Atherosclerosis is the most common underlying cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. c-Kit (CD117) is a member of the receptor tyrosine kinase family, which regulates differentiation, proliferation, and survival of multiple cell types. Recent studies have shown that c-Kit and its ligand stem cell factor (SCF) are present in arterial endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells (SMCs). The role of c-Kit in cardiovascular disease remains unclear. The aim of the current study is to determine the role of c-Kit in atherogenesis. For this purpose, atherosclerotic plaques were quantified in c-Kit-deficient mice (KitMut) after they were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 16 wk. KitMut mice demonstrated substantially greater atherosclerosis compared with control (KitWT) littermates (P < 0.01). Transplantation of c-Kit-positive bone marrow cells into KitMut mice failed to rescue the atherogenic phenotype, an indication that increased atherosclerosis was associated with reduced arterial c-Kit. To investigate the mechanism, SMC organization and morphology were analyzed in the aorta by histopathology and electron microscopy. SMCs were more abundant, disorganized, and vacuolated in aortas of c-Kit mutant mice compared with controls (P < 0.05). Markers of the "contractile" SMC phenotype (calponin, SM22α) were downregulated with pharmacological and genetic c-Kit inhibition (P < 0.05). The absence of c-Kit increased lipid accumulation and significantly reduced the expression of the ATP-binding cassette transporter G1 (ABCG1) necessary for lipid efflux in SMCs. Reconstitution of c-Kit in cultured KitMut SMCs resulted in increased spindle-shaped morphology, reduced proliferation, and elevated levels of contractile markers, all indicators of their restored contractile phenotype (P < 0.05).NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study describes the novel vasculoprotective role of c-Kit against atherosclerosis and its function in the preservation of the SMC contractile phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H867-H876
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology
Volume317
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

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Smooth Muscle Myocytes
Atherosclerosis
Phenotype
Stem Cell Factor
Aorta
Lipids
ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
High Fat Diet
Atherosclerotic Plaques
Bone Marrow Cells
Cell Survival
Electron Microscopy
Cardiovascular Diseases
Down-Regulation
Endothelial Cells
Transplantation
Organizations
Pharmacology
Morbidity

Keywords

  • atheroma
  • atherosclerosis
  • c-Kit
  • mouse
  • phenotypic switch
  • smooth muscle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

c-Kit suppresses atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice. / Song, Lei; Zigmond, Zachary M.; Martinez, Laisel; Lassance-Soares, Roberta M.; Macias, Alejandro E.; Velazquez, Omaida C.; Liu, Zhao Jun; Salama, Alghidak; Webster, Keith A.; Vazquez-Padron, Roberto I.

In: American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology, Vol. 317, No. 4, 01.10.2019, p. H867-H876.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Song, Lei ; Zigmond, Zachary M. ; Martinez, Laisel ; Lassance-Soares, Roberta M. ; Macias, Alejandro E. ; Velazquez, Omaida C. ; Liu, Zhao Jun ; Salama, Alghidak ; Webster, Keith A. ; Vazquez-Padron, Roberto I. / c-Kit suppresses atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice. In: American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology. 2019 ; Vol. 317, No. 4. pp. H867-H876.
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AU - Velazquez, Omaida C.

AU - Liu, Zhao Jun

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