The vascular smooth muscle cell in arterial pathology: a cell that can take on multiple roles

P. Lacolley, V. Regnault, A. Nicoletti, Z. Li, J.-B. Michel
2012 Cardiovascular Research  
Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are the stromal cells of the vascular wall, continually exposed to mechanical signals and biochemical components generated in the blood compartment. They are involved in all the physiological functions and the pathological changes taking place in the vascular wall. Owing to their contractile tonus, VSMCs of resistance vessels participate in the regulation of blood pressure and also in hypertension. VSMCs of conduit arteries respond to hypertension-induced
more » ... reases in wall stress by an increase in cell protein synthesis (hypertrophy) and extracellular matrix secretion. These responses are mediated by complex signalling pathways, mainly involving RhoA and extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2. Serum response factor and miRNA expression represent main mechanisms controlling the pattern of gene expression. Ageing also induces VSMC phenotypic modulation that could have influence on cell senescence and loss of plasticity and reprogramming. In the early stages of human atheroma, VSMCs support the lipid overload. Endocytosis/phagocytosis of modified low-density lipoproteins, free cholesterol, microvesicles, and apoptotic cells by VSMCs plays a major role in the progression of atheroma. Migration and proliferation of VSMCs in the intima also participate in plaque progression. The medial VSMC is the organizer of the inwardly directed angiogenic response arising from the adventitia by overexpressing vascular endothelial growth factor in response to lipid-stimulated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g, and probably also the organizer of the adventitial immune response by secreting chemokines. VSMCs are also involved in the response to proteolytic injury via their ability to activate bloodborne proteases, to secrete antiproteases, and to clear protease/antiprotease complexes. ---
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvs135 pmid:22467316 fatcat:h2epel7mprbjrijx3cyfmcdp54