Up-regulation of heme oxygenase-1 expression and inhibition of disease-associated features by cannabidiol in vascular smooth muscle cells
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Margit Schwartz1, Sabine Böckmann1 and Burkhard Hinz1
1Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany
Burkhard Hinz, email: [email protected]
Keywords: cannabidiol; smooth muscle cells; heme oxygenase-1; proliferation; migration
Received: April 11, 2018 Accepted: August 31, 2018 Published: October 02, 2018
Aberrant proliferation and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) have been closely linked to the development and progression of cardiovascular and cancer diseases. The cytoprotective enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been shown to mediate anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects in VSMC. This study investigates the effect of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, on HO-1 expression and disease-associated functions of human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells (HUASMC). HO-1 protein and mRNA were significantly increased by CBD in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Although the expression of several cannabinoid-activated receptors (CB1, CB2, G protein-coupled receptor 55, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1) was verified in HUASMC, CBD was shown to induce HO-1 via none of these targets. Instead, the CBD-mediated increase in HO-1 protein was reversed by the glutathione precursor N-acetylcysteine, indicating the participation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling; this was confirmed by flow cytometry-based ROS detection. CBD-induced HO-1 expression was accompanied by inhibition of growth factor-mediated proliferation and migration of HUASMC. However, neither inhibition of HO-1 activity nor knockdown of HO-1 protein attenuated CBD-mediated anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects. Indeed, inhibition or depletion of HO-1 resulted in induction of apoptosis and intensified CBD-mediated effects on proliferation and migration. Collectively, this work provides the first indication of CBD-mediated enhancement of HO-1 in VSMC and potential protective effects against aberrant VSMC proliferation and migration. On the other hand, our data argue against a role of HO-1 in CBD-mediated inhibition of proliferation and migration while substantiating its anti-apoptotic role in oxidative stress-mediated cell fate.
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