Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) represent important modulators of plaque stability in advanced lesions. We previously reported that loss of small proline-rich repeat protein 3 (Sprr3), leads to VSMC apoptosis in a PI3K/Akt-dependent manner and accelerates lesion progression. Here, we investigated the role of Sprr3 in modulating plaque stability in hyperlipidemic ApoE -/- mice. We show that loss of Sprr3 increased necrotic core size and reduced cap collagen content of atheromas in brachiocephalic arteries with evidence of plaque rupture and development of intraluminal thrombi. Moreover, Sprr3 -/-ApoE -/- mice developed advanced coronary artery lesions accompanied by intraplaque hemorrhage and left ventricle microinfarcts. SPRR3 is known to reduce VSMC survival in lesions by promoting their apoptosis. In addition, we demonstrated that Sprr3-/- VSMCs displayed reduced expression of procollagen in a PI3K/Akt dependent manner. SPRR3 loss also increased MMP gelatinase activity in lesions, and increased MMP2 expression, migration and contraction of VSMCs independently of PI3K/Akt. Consequently, Sprr3 represents the first described VSMC modulator of each of the critical features of cap stability, including VSMC numbers, collagen type I synthesis, and protease activity through Akt dependent and independent pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences