Visiting Instructor/Lecturer, Cardiothoracic Surgery
Background Male patients with Marfan syndrome have a higher risk of aortic events and root dilatation compared with females. The role androgens play during Marfan syndrome aneurysm development in males remains unknown. We hypothesized that androgens potentiate transforming growth factor beta induced Erk (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase)/Smad activation, contributing to aneurysm progression in males. Methods and Results Aortic diameters in Fbn1C1039G/+ and littermate wild-type controls were measured at ages 6, 8, 12, and 16weeks. Fbn1C1039G/+ males were treated with (1) flutamide (androgen receptor blocker) or (2) vehicle control from age 6 to 16weeks and then euthanized. p-Erk1/2, p-Smad2, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity were measured in ascending/aortic root and descending aorta specimens. Fbn1C1039G/+ male and female ascending/aortic root-derived smooth muscle cells were utilized in vitro to measure Erk/Smad activation and MMP-2 activity following dihydrotestosterone, flutamide or transforming growth factor beta 1 treatment. Fbn1C1039G/+ males have increased aneurysm growth. p-Erk1/2 and p-Smad2 were elevated in ascending/aortic root specimens at age 16weeks. Corresponding with enhanced Erk/Smad signaling, MMP-2 activity was higher in Fbn1C1039G/+ males. In vitro smooth muscle cell studies revealed that dihydrotestosterone potentiates transforming growth factor beta-induced Erk/Smad activation and MMP-2 activity, which is reversed by flutamide treatment. Finally, in vivo flutamide treatment reduced aneurysm growth via p-Erk1/2 and p-Smad2 reduction in Fbn1C1039G/+ males. Conclusions Fbn1C1039G/+ males have enhanced aneurysm growth compared with females associated with enhanced p-Erk1/2 and p-Smad2 activation. Mechanistically, in vitro smooth muscle cell studies suggested that dihydrotestosterone potentiates transforming growth factor beta induced Erk/Smad activation. As biological proof of concept, flutamide treatment attenuated aneurysm growth and p-Erk1/2 and p-Smad2 signaling in Fbn1C1039G/+ males.
View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.119.015773
View details for PubMedID 33059492
OBJECTIVE: To delineate temporal and spatial dynamics of vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) transcriptomic changes during aortic aneurysm development in Marfan syndrome (MFS). Approach and Results: We performed single-cell RNA sequencing to study aortic root/ascending aneurysm tissue from Fbn1C1041G/+ (MFS) mice and healthy controls, identifying all aortic cell types. A distinct cluster of transcriptomically modulated SMCs (modSMCs) was identified in adult Fbn1C1041G/+ mouse aortic aneurysm tissue only. Comparison with atherosclerotic aortic data (ApoE-/- mice) revealed similar patterns of SMC modulation but identified an MFS-specific gene signature, including plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (Serpine1) and Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4). We identified 481 differentially expressed genes between modSMC and SMC subsets; functional annotation highlighted extracellular matrix modulation, collagen synthesis, adhesion, and proliferation. Pseudotime trajectory analysis of Fbn1C1041G/+ SMC/modSMC transcriptomes identified genes activated differentially throughout the course of phenotype modulation. While modSMCs were not present in young Fbn1C1041G/+ mouse aortas despite small aortic aneurysm, multiple early modSMCs marker genes were enriched, suggesting activation of phenotype modulation. modSMCs were not found in nondilated adult Fbn1C1041G/+ descending thoracic aortas. Single-cell RNA sequencing from human MFS aortic root aneurysm tissue confirmed analogous SMC modulation in clinical disease. Enhanced expression of TGF (transforming growth factor)-beta-responsive genes correlated with SMC modulation in mouse and human data sets.CONCLUSIONS: Dynamic SMC phenotype modulation promotes extracellular matrix substrate modulation and aortic aneurysm progression in MFS. We characterize the disease-specific signature of modSMCs and provide temporal, transcriptomic context to the current understanding of the role TGF-beta plays in MFS aortopathy. Collectively, single-cell RNA sequencing implicates TGF-beta signaling and Klf4 overexpression as potential upstream drivers of SMC modulation.
View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.120.314670
View details for PubMedID 32698686