Research Papers:

Apocynin attenuates angiotensin II-induced vascular smooth muscle cells osteogenic switching via suppressing extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2

Weijing Feng _, Kun Zhang, Yu Liu, Jie Chen, Qingqing Cai, Yinyin Zhang, Mongheng Wang, Jingfeng Wang and Hui Huang

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:83588-83600. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13193

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Weijing Feng1,2,*, Kun Zhang1,2,*, Yu Liu3,*, Jie Chen1,4,*, Qingqing Cai5, Yinyin Zhang1,2, Mongheng Wang6, Jingfeng Wang1,2, Hui Huang1,2

1Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Malignant Tumor Epigenetics and Gene Regulation, Department of Cardiology, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

2Laboratory of RNA and Major Diseases of Brain and Heart, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

3Department of Cardiology, the People's Hospital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning, China

4Department of Radiation Oncology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

5Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

6Department of Physiology, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Hui Huang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: vascular smooth muscle cells, osteogenic switching, vascular calcification, angiotensin II, apocynin

Received: January 27, 2016     Accepted: October 19, 2016     Published: November 08, 2016


Vascular calcification (VC) is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We recently reported that apocynin had benefits for preventing cardiovascular diseases. However, whether apocynin could attenuate VC is unknown. Here, we investigated the role of apocynin in VC and its underlying mechanisms. 163 participants with high or normal ankle–brachial index (ABI) were enrolled in this study for analyzing the demographic and biochemical data. In vitro, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) were exposed to calcification medium containing b-glycerophosphate and angiotensin II (Ang II) for 24 hours. The results showed that serum level of Ang II was significantly increased in patients with high ABI (P<0.05). In cultured VSMCs, Ang II significantly exacerbated osteogenic switching. The expression of osteogenic phenotype markers, including bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2) and osteopontin (OPN), were significantly upregulated, whereas contractile markers expression, including alpha smooth muscle actin (a-SMA) and smooth muscle 22 alpha (SM22a) were simultaneously downregulated. However, these effects were greatly attenuated by apocynin. Apocynin enhanced expression of a-SMA by 5.3%, and reduced expression of BMP2, Runx2, OPN by 3.37%, 0.61% and 3.07%, respectively. Furthermore, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation was upregulated by Ang II, and this effect was also reversed by apocynin. Intriguingly, pretreatment with U0126, an inhibitor of ERK1/2, had similar effects with apocynin. Apocynin may act as a novel molecular candidate to protect against VSMCs osteogenic switching through suppressing ERK1/2 pathway.

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