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Open access

Manisha S Patil, Siân P Cartland, and Mary M Kavurma

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is an essential part of the vasculature, not only providing structural support to the blood vessel wall, but also in its ability to interact with cells to regulate cell phenotype and function including proliferation, migration, differentiation and death – processes important in vascular remodelling. Increasing evidence implicates TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) signalling in the modulation of vascular cell function and remodelling under normal and pathological conditions such as in atherosclerosis. TRAIL can also stimulate synthesis of multiple ECM components within blood vessels. This review explores the relationship between TRAIL signals, the ECM, and its implications in vessel remodelling in cardiovascular disease.

Open access

Sarah Costantino, Shafeeq A Mohammed, Samuele Ambrosini, and Francesco Paneni

Our genetic background provides limited information on individual risk of developing vascular complications overtime. New biological layers, namely epigenetic modifications, are now emerging as potent regulators of gene expression thus leading to altered transcriptional programs and vascular disease phenotypes. Such epigenetic modifications, defined as changes to the genome that do not involve changes in DNA sequence, are generally induced by environmental factors and poor lifestyle habits. Of note, adverse epigenetic signals acquired during life can be transmitted to the offspring thus leading to premature alterations of the epigenetic and transcriptional landscape eventually leading to early endothelial dysfunction and vascular senescence. Modifications of the epigenome play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of cardiometabolic disturbances such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In these patients, changes of DNA methylation and chromatin structure contribute to alter pathways regulating insulin sensitivity, glucose homeostasis, adipogenesis and vascular function. In this perspective, unveiling the ‘epigenetic landscape’ in cardiometabolic patients may help to identify new players implicated in obesity and diabetes-related vascular dysfunction and may pave the way for personalized therapies in this setting. In the present review, we discuss current knowledge of the epigenetic routes implicated in vascular damage and cardiovascular disease in patients with metabolic alterations.

Open access

Nektarios Barabutis

Endothelial barrier dysfunction is the hallmark of inflammatory lung disease, including Acute Lung Injury and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The purpose of the present editorial is to emphasize on recent advances in the corresponding field, as it relates to P53. This tumor suppressor protein has been shown to enhance the vascular barrier integrity via distinct molecular pathways. Further, it mediates the beneficial effects of heat shock protein 90 inhibitors and growth hormone releasing hormone antagonists in the lung microvasculature.

Open access

Luca Marchetti and Britta Engelhardt

To maintain the homeostatic environment required for proper function of CNS neurons the endothelial cells of CNS microvessels tightly regulate the movement of ions and molecules between the blood and the CNS. The unique properties of these blood vascular endothelial cells are termed blood-brain barrier (BBB) and extend to regulating immune cell trafficking into the immune privileged CNS during health and disease. In general, extravasation of circulating immune cells is a multi-step process regulated by the sequential interaction of adhesion and signalling molecules between the endothelial cells and the immune cells. Accounting for the unique barrier properties of CNS microvessels, immune cell migration across the BBB is distinct and characterized by several adaptations. Here we describe the mechanisms that regulate immune cell trafficking across the BBB during immune surveillance and neuroinflammation, with a focus on the current state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo imaging observations.

Open access

Chia-Pei Denise Hsu, Joshua D Hutcheson, and Sharan Ramaswamy

Forces generated by blood flow are known to contribute to cardiovascular development and remodeling. These hemodynamic forces induce molecular signals that are communicated from the endothelium to various cell types. The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and the vasculature, and together they deliver nutrients throughout the body. While heart valves and blood vessels experience different environmental forces and differ in morphology as well as cell types, they both can undergo pathological remodeling and become susceptible to calcification. In addition, while the plaque morphology is similar in valvular and vascular diseases, therapeutic targets available for the latter condition are not effective in the management of heart valve calcification. Therefore, research in valvular and vascular pathologies and treatments have largely remained independent. Nonetheless, understanding the similarities and differences in development, calcific/fibrous pathologies and healthy remodeling events between the valvular and vascular systems can help us better identify future treatments for both types of tissues, particularly for heart valve pathologies which have been understudied in comparison to arterial diseases.

Open access

Alessandra Magenta, Reggio Lorde, Sunayana Begum Syed, Maurizio C Capogrossi, Annibale Puca, and Paolo Madeddu

Regenerative medicine is a new therapeutic modality that aims to mend tissue damage by encouraging the reconstitution of physiological integrity. It represents an advancement over conventional therapies that allow reducing the damage but result in disease chronicization. Age-related decline in spontaneous capacity of repair, especially in organs like the heart that have very limited proliferative capacity, contributes in reducing the benefit of conventional therapy. ncRNAs are emerging as key epigenetic regulators of cardiovascular regeneration. Inhibition or replacement of miRNAs may offer reparative solutions to cardiovascular disease. The first part of this review article is devoted to illustrating novel therapies emerging from research on miRNAs. In the second part, we develop new therapeutic concepts emerging from genetics of longevity. Prolonged survival, as in supercentenarians, denotes an exceptional capacity to repair and cope with risk factors and diseases. These characteristics are shared with offspring, suggesting that the regenerative phenotype is heritable. New evidence indicates that genetic traits responsible for prolongation of health span in humans can be passed to and benefit the outcomes of animal models of cardiovascular disease. Genetic studies have also focused on determinants of accelerated senescence and related druggable targets. Evolutionary genetics assessing the genetic basis of adaptation and comparing successful and unsuccessful genetic changes in response to selection within populations represent a powerful basis to develop novel therapies aiming to prolong cardiovascular and whole organism health.

Open access

Ruth Ganss

Tumour growth critically depends on a supportive microenvironment, including the tumour vasculature. Tumour blood vessels are structurally abnormal and functionally anergic which limits drug access and immune responses in solid cancers. Thus, tumour vasculature has been considered an attractive therapeutic target for decades. However, with time, anti-angiogenic therapy has evolved from destruction to structural and functional rehabilitation as understanding of tumour vascular biology became more refined. Vessel remodelling or normalisation strategies which alleviate hypoxia are now coming of age having been shown to have profound effects on the tumour microenvironment. This includes improved tumour perfusion, release from immune suppression and lower metastasis rates. Nevertheless, clinical translation has been slow due to challenges such as the transient nature of current normalisation strategies, limited in vivo monitoring and the heterogeneity of primary and/or metastatic tumour environments, calling for more tailored approaches to vascular remodelling. Despite these setbacks, harnessing vascular plasticity provides unique opportunities for anti-cancer combination therapies in particular anti-angiogenic immunotherapy which are yet to reach their full potential.

Open access

Makeda Stephenson, Daniel H Reich, and Kenneth R Boheler

The reproducible generation of human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) in vitro has been critical to overcoming many limitations of animal and primary cell models of vascular biology and disease. Since this initial advance, research in the field has turned toward recapitulating the naturally occurring subtype specificity found in vSMCs throughout the body, and honing functional models of vascular disease. In this review, we summarize vSMC derivation approaches, including current phenotype and developmental origin-specific methods, and applications of vSMCs in functional disease models and engineered tissues. Further, we discuss the challenges of heterogeneity in hiPSC-derived tissues and propose approaches to identify and isolate vSMC subtype populations.