Blockade of Ets-1 attenuates epidermal growth factor-dependent collagen loss in human carotid plaque smooth muscle cells

Velidi H. Rao, Vikrant Rai, Samantha Stoupa, Devendra K. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Although degradation of extracellular matrix by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is thought to be involved in symptomatic (S) carotid plaques in atherosclerosis, the mechanisms of MMP expression are poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that collagen loss in vascular smooth vessel cells (VSMCs) isolated from S plaques was induced by epidermal growth factor (EGF) through the activation of p38-MAPK and JNK-MAPK pathways. Inhibitors of p38-MAPK and JNK-MAPK signaling pathways downregulated the expression of MMP-1 and MMP-9. In addition, we examined whether v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homologue 1 (Ets-1), an important regulator of different genes, is involved in destabilizing S plaques in patients with carotid stenosis. We demonstrate that EGF induces Ets-1 expression and decreases interstitial and basement membrane collagen in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) from patients with carotid stenosis. Increased expression of MMP-1 and -9 and decreased collagen mRNA transcripts were also found in Ets-1-overexpressed VSMCs. Transfection with both dominant-negative form of Ets-1 and small interfering RNA blocked EGF-induced MMP-1 and -9 expressions and increased the mRNA transcripts for collagen I ([1]1) and collagen III ([1]1) in S compared with asymptomatic (AS) carotid plaques. Inhibitors of p38-MAPK (SB202190) and JNK-MAPK (SP600125) signaling pathways decreased the expression of Ets-1, MMP-1, and MMP-9 and increased collagen type I and III expression in EGF-treated VSMCs. This study provides a mechanistic insight into the role of Ets-1 in the plaque destabilization in patients with carotid stenosis involving p38-MAPK and JNK signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1075-H1086
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 18 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

Cite this