Integrin ανβ5 in vitro inhibition limits pro-fibrotic response in cardiac fibroblasts of spontaneously hypertensive rats

Gianluca Lorenzo Perrucci, Veronica Antonietta Barbagallo, Maria Corlianò, Delfina Tosi, Rosaria Santoro, Patrizia Nigro, Paolo Poggio, Gaetano Bulfamante, Federico Lombardi, Giulio Pompilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To date the TGF-β1 activation mediated by integrin ανβ5 during fibrosis is well-known. This process has been shown also in the heart, where cardiac fibroblasts (CF) differentiate into α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)-positive myofibroblasts (MyoFB). Here, we studied the effects on CF, isolated by spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), of integrin ανβ5 inhibition in MyoFB differentiation. Methods: Staining and immunohistochemistry were performed on rat cardiac tissue. CF were isolated by enzymatic digestion from SHR (SHR-CF) and normotensive WKY (WKY-CF) rat hearts and then treated for in vitro evaluation. Results: SHR heart tissues revealed a higher TGF-β1 expression vs. WKY samples. SHR-CF showed an enhanced SMAD2/3 activation and an up-regulated expression of α-SMA, a typical MyoFB marker, especially after TGF-β1 treatment. Immunostaining on cardiac tissues revealed a higher expression of integrin ανβ5 in SHR vs. WKY rat hearts. In vitro results confirmed the up-regulation of integrin ανβ5 expression in SHR-CF at basal condition and after TGF-β1 treatment, in comparison with WKY-CF. Inhibition of integrin ανβ5 by cilengitide treatment led a decreased expression of ανβ5, collagen I, and α-SMA in SHR-CF vs. WKY-CF, resulting in a diminished differentiation of CF into MyoFB. Taking together, results suggested that SHR-CF are more susceptible to TGF-β1, showing an up-regulated activation of SMAD2/3 signaling, and an increased ανβ5, α-SMA, and collagen I expression. Hypertension stimulus promoted an up-regulation of integrin ανβ5 on SHR cardiac tissue and its in vitro inhibition reverted pro-fibrotic events of SHR-CF. Conclusion: Inhibition of integrin ανβ5 exerted by cilengitide strongly diminished SHR-CF differentiation into detrimental MyoFB. So, integrin ανβ5 might be considered a novel therapeutic target and cilengitide an effective pharmacological tool to limit the progression of hypertension-induced cardiac fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number352
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2018


  • Cilengitide
  • Hypertension
  • Integrin ανβ5
  • Myofibroblast
  • TGF-β1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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