Hyperplastic growth of aortic smooth muscle cells in renovascular hypertensive rabbits is characterized by the expansion of an immature cell phenotype

Paolo Pauletto, Angela Chiavegato, Luca Giuriato, Marta Scatena, Elisabetta Faggin, Antonella Grisenti, Riccardo Sarzani, Maria V. Paci, P. Dessì Fulgeri, Alessandro Rappelli, Achille C. Pessina, Saverio Sartore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) of rabbit aorta undergo marked changes in myosin isoform content during development. Analysis of nonmuscle myosin composition at the protein level has permitted the identification of three phases in the SMC differentiation process: fetal, postnatal, and adult. Using monoclonal antibodies specific for smooth muscle and nonmuscle myosins and extra domain A of fibronectin as well as cDNA probes for platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF) and various procollagens, we have evaluated the differentiation pattern of aortic SMCs in two-kidney, one-clip hypertensive rabbits. Morphometric and bromo-deoxyuridine studies indicate that hypertrophy of aortic media along with intimal thickening occurring in hypertensive animals is due to SMC hyperplasia. Western blotting experiments performed on aortic specimens from hypertensive animals with antimyosin antibodies revealed the appearance of a myosin isoform pattern of the 'immature' type. Immunofluorescence tests showed that these cells are localized in the thickened intima or distributed in the underlying media (sparsely or in groups). Similarly, the fibronectin variant showing the extra domain A, peculiar to 'phenotypically modulated' SMCs, appeared in intimal thickening, and its expression followed the time course of nonmuscle myosin expression. Counting of postnatal-type SMCs in the aortic media revealed that this cell population increases markedly with hypertension (2- up to 15-fold at 4 months) and then declines to near control level in 8-month hypertensive rabbits. Diminution of postnatal-type SMCs at later stages of hypertension was temporally correlated with the slowing down of aortic wall hypertrophy. Average levels of mRNAs, as determined by densitometric analysis in aortas from 1- and 2.5-month hypertensive rabbits, showed an increased expression for PDGF β receptor (up to twofold), procollagen type I (α1, threefold), procollagen type III (α1, twofold), and fibronectin (up to threefold) compared with controls. Conversely, the steady-state levels of mRNAs for PDGF (A and B chain), PDGF α receptor, TGF-β1, and procollagen type IV (α1) did not increase significantly. These results provide evidence that in adult renovascular hypertensive rabbits, the hyperplastic growth of aortic SMCs is accompanied by the expansion of an 'immature' cell phenotype characteristic of the early stages of development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-788
Number of pages15
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1994


  • growth factors
  • hypertension
  • hypertrophy
  • isoforms
  • muscle, smooth
  • myosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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