The balance between apoptosis and survival of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in the fibrous cap appears to best correlate with plaque instability or stability and is controlled by growth factors and cytokines. We recently reported the inhibition of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I-induced proliferation and increase in apoptosis of VSMCs by atheroma-associated cytokines. Here we assessed the expression of IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) in atherosclerotic plaques and in plaque VSMCs of asymptomatic and symptomatic patients with carotid stenosis and examined the effect of IGF-I, IL-12, and IFN-γ on the expression of IGF-IR and IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 in plaque VSMCs. We observed significantly lower density of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling-positive apoptotic nuclei and increased positive immunoreactivity to IGF-IR and mRNA transcripts of endogenous IGF-I and IGF-IR in asymptomatic than in symptomatic plaque VSMCs. Positive correlation was found between apoptosis and IGF-IR expression in asymptomatic (r 2 = 0.942) and symptomatic (r 2 = 0.908) plaque VSMCs. The specific binding of 125I-labeled IGF-I was 3.7-fold higher in plaque VSMCs of asymptomatic patients than in symptomatic patients. IGF-I increased both IGF-IR mRNA transcripts and expression of IGFBP-3 in VSMCs of asymptomatic plaques. IL-12 and IFN-γ decreased IGF-IR mRNA transcripts and further increased the expression of IGFBP-3 in asymptomatic VSMCs but had no effect in symptomatic VSMCs. These data suggest that the decreased expression of IGF-IR mRNA and increased expression of IGFBP-3 in carotid plaques of symptomatic patients could be due to atheroma-associated cytokines and this could result in plaque instability.
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2007|
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