Elevated glucose levels promote contractile and cytoskeletal gene expression in vascular smooth muscle via Rho/protein kinase C and actin polymerization.

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Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This is in part attributed to the effects of hyperglycemia on vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. In diabetic animal models, hyperglycemia results in hyper-contractility of vascular smooth muscle possibly due to increased activation of Rho-kinase. The aim of the present study was to investigate the regulation of contractile smooth muscle markers by glucose and to determine the signaling pathways that are activated by hyperglycemia in smooth muscle cells. Microarray, qPCR and western blot analyses revealed that both mRNA and protein expression of contractile smooth muscle markers was increased in isolated smooth muscle cells cultured under high compared to low glucose conditions. This effect was also observed in hyperglycemic Akita mice and in diabetic patients. Elevated glucose activated the protein kinase C and Rho/Rho-kinase signaling pathways and stimulated actin polymerization. Glucose-induced expression of contractile smooth muscle markers in cultured cells could be partially or completely repressed by inhibitors of advanced glycation end products, L-type calcium channels, protein kinase C, Rho-kinase, actin polymerization and myocardin related transcription factors. Furthermore, genetic ablation of the miR-143/145 cluster prevented the effects of glucose on smooth muscle marker expression. In conclusion, these data demonstrate a possible link between hyperglycemia and vascular disease states associated with smooth muscle contractility.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3552-68
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number7
Early online date2015 Dec 18
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

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