Relationship of glycosaminoglycan and matrix changes to vascular smooth muscle cell phenotype modulation in rabbit arteries after acute injury
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PURPOSE: The phenotype of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) is altered in several arterial pathologies, including the neointima formed after acute arterial injury. This study examined the time course of this phenotypic change in relation to changes in the amount and distribution of matrix glycosaminoglycans. METHODS: The immunochemical staining of heparan sulphates (HS) and chondroitin sulphates (CS) in the extracellular matrix of the arterial wall was examined at early points after balloon catheter injury of the rabbit carotid artery. SMC phenotype was assessed by means of ultrastructural morphometry of the cytoplasmic volume fraction of myofilaments. The proportions of cell and matrix components in the media were analyzed with similar morphometric techniques. RESULTS: HS and CS were shown in close association with SMCs of the uninjured arterial media as well as being more widespread within the matrix. Within 6 hours after arterial injury, there was loss of the regular pericellular distribution of both HS and CS, which was associated with a significant expansion in the extracellular space. This preceded the change in ultrastructural phenotype of the SMCs. The glycosaminoglycan loss was most exaggerated at 4 days, after which time the HS and CS reappeared around the medial SMCs. SMCs of the recovering media were able to rapidly replace their glycosaminoglycans, whereas SMCs of the developing neointima failed to produce HS as readily as they produced CS. CONCLUSIONS: These studies indicate that changes in glycosaminoglycans of the extracellular matrix precede changes in SMC phenotype after acute arterial injury. In the recovering arterial media, SMCs replace their matrix glycosaminoglycans rapidly, whereas the newly established neointima fails to produce similar amounts of heparan sulphates.
Journal of Vascular Surgery