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Open access

Xiaojing Ma, Hongfei Li, Shuntian Zhu, Zixuan Hong, Weijing Kong, Qihang Yuan, Runlong Wu, Zihang Pan, Jing Zhang, Yahong Chen, Xi Wang, and Kai Wang

The emergence of the organoid simulates the native organs and this mini organ offers an excellent platform for probing multicellular interaction, disease modeling and drug discovery. Blood vessels constitute the instructive vascular niche which is indispensable for organ development, function and regeneration. Therefore, it is expected that the introduction of infiltrated blood vessels into the organoid might further pump vitality and credibility into the system. While the field is emerging and growing with new concepts and methodologies, this review aims at presenting various sources of vascular ingredients for constructing vascularized organoids and the paired methodology including de- and recellularization, bioprinting and microfluidics. Representative vascular organoids corresponding to specific tissues are also summarized and discussed to elaborate on the next generation of organoid development.

Open access

Xusheng Zhang, Zhanjun Huang, Xiaorong Fan, Xiaoqing Tan, Chengzhi Lu, and Jianshe Yang

The present study aimed to assess the role of urocortin II (UII) in the process of vascular calcification in vitro by using a calcification model, to detect the changes in the mRNA and protein levels of associated markers in rat adventitial fibroblasts (AFs) during their phenotypic transformation to osteoblast cellsto clarify the main signal transduction pathway of UII responsible for regulating vascular calcification and AF phenotypic transformation of osteoblast cells, and to prove that UII was an endogenous factor promoting vascular calcification, so as to provide an effective experimental basis for the clinical regulation of related diseases caused by vascular calcification. Finally, we successfully constructed the calcified cell model, found that UII was an endogenous substance regulating vascular calcification, regulated the vascular calcification by promoting apoptosis and inhibiting autophagy through up- and downregulated BAX and BCL-2/BECLIN 1 (BECN1) level, and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway was involved.

Open access

Majid Almansouri, Pooja Patel, Janet Chamberlain, and Sheila Francis

Atherosclerosis is characterised by abnormal lipid and cell accumulation within arterial layers that leads to disturbed blood flow. Modified cholesterol forms such as oxidised low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) enter cells altering their phenotype, triggering over-exuberant repair and arterial occlusion, myocardial infarction or stroke. We hypothesised that oxLDL enters vascular wall cells and induces interleukin-1β (IL-1β) secretion, potentially via a caspase-1/NLRP3 mechanism. Human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAEC) and smooth muscle cells (HCASMC), isolated from different donors, were cultured and stimulated (primed) with pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1α (10 ng/mL each, for 48 h), followed by incubation with human oxLDL (10–50 ug/mL) for up to 6 h. Inhibitors of caspase-1 (YVAD), NLRP3 (MCC950) and gasdermin D (disulfiram) were added 1 h before oxLDL. Cell lysates and culture supernatants were collected and analysed for IL-1β using ELISA. Microscopy imaging showed oxLDL entered stimulated cells and formed particles. OxLDL at 20 and 50 ug/mL induced the maximum release of IL-1β from stimulated HCASMCs and HCAECs, respectively, compared to control. Inhibition of either NLRP3, caspase-1 or gasdermin D significantly reduced the release of IL-1β (4-fold, P < 0.0001; 14-fold, P < 0.0001, 1.5-fold, P < 0.0003, respectively) in HCAEC. In contrast, in HCASMCs, only caspase-1 inhibition reduced the release of IL-1β (2.1-fold, P < 0.0001). HCAECs and HCASMCs elicited the release of IL-1β in response to the same stimulus via different mechanisms. In HCAECs, released IL-1β potentially exits via a GSDMD-induced membrane pore. These data suggest that caspase-1 or gasdermin D inhibition is likely to be effective vessel wall cell-specific strategies for the reduction of atherosclerosis.

Open access

Paul H A Quax and Marie-José T H Goumans

Open access

Vladimir Y Bogdanov and Vladimir N Khirmanov

As we enter year 3 of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, long-term consequences of COVID-19 have become a major public health issue worldwide; however, the molecular and cellular underpinnings of ‘long COVID’ remain very poorly understood. A paradigm has recently emerged that thrombo-inflammatory consequences of SARS-CoV-2’s impact on endothelial cells and platelets likely play a significant role in the development of chronic symptomatology associated with COVID-19. In this brief overview, we discuss the recent findings pertaining to the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virions in vascular cell subtypes, the contribution of the coagulation system to the development of ‘long COVID’, and the potential role of stem/progenitor cells in the viral and thrombotic dissemination in this disorder.

Open access

Jordan C Langston, Michael T Rossi, Qingliang Yang, William Ohley, Edwin Perez, Laurie E Kilpatrick, Balabhaskar Prabhakarpandian, and Mohammad F Kiani

During sepsis, defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction due to dysregulated host response to infection, systemic inflammation activates endothelial cells and initiates a multifaceted cascade of pro-inflammatory signaling events, resulting in increased permeability and excessive recruitment of leukocytes. Vascular endothelial cells share many common properties but have organ-specific phenotypes with unique structure and function. Thus, therapies directed against endothelial cell phenotypes are needed to address organ-specific endothelial cell dysfunction. Omics allow for the study of expressed genes, proteins and/or metabolites in biological systems and provide insight on temporal and spatial evolution of signals during normal and diseased conditions. Proteomics quantifies protein expression, identifies protein–protein interactions and can reveal mechanistic changes in endothelial cells that would not be possible to study via reductionist methods alone. In this review, we provide an overview of how sepsis pathophysiology impacts omics with a focus on proteomic analysis of mouse endothelial cells during sepsis/inflammation and its relationship with the more clinically relevant omics of human endothelial cells. We discuss how omics has been used to define septic endotype signatures in different populations with a focus on proteomic analysis in organ-specific microvascular endothelial cells during sepsis or septic-like inflammation. We believe that studies defining septic endotypes based on proteomic expression in endothelial cell phenotypes are urgently needed to complement omic profiling of whole blood and better define sepsis subphenotypes. Lastly, we provide a discussion of how in silico modeling can be used to leverage the large volume of omics data to map response pathways in sepsis.

Open access

Ryan von Kleeck, Paola Castagnino, and Richard K Assoian

Hutchinson–Guilford Progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a rare genetic disease of premature aging and early death due to cardiovascular disease. The arteries of HGPS children and mice are pathologically stiff, and HGPS mice also display reduced arterial contractility. We recently showed that reduced contractility is an early event in HGPS and linked to an aberrantly low expression of smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (smMHC). Here, we have explored the basis for reduced smMHC abundance and asked whether it is a direct effect of progerin expression or a longer-term adaptive response. Myh11, the gene encoding for smMHC, is regulated by myocardin-related transcription factors (MRTFs), and we show that HGPS aortas have a reduced MRTF signature. Additionally, smooth muscle cells (SMCs) isolated from HGPS mice display reduced MRTF nuclear localization. Acute progerin expression in WT SMCs phenocopied both the decrease in MRTF nuclear localization and expression of Myh11 seen in HGPS. Interestingly, RNA-mediated depletion of MRTF-A in WT SMCs reproduced the preferential inhibitory effect of progerin on Myh11 mRNA relative to Acta2 mRNA. Our results show that progerin expression acutely disrupts MRTF localization to the nucleus and suggest that the consequent decrease in nuclear coactivator activity can help to explain the reduction in smMHC abundance and SMC contractility seen in HGPS.

Open access

Alba Lopez Rioja, Ashton Faulkner, and Harry Mellor

The endothelial barrier is a tightly regulated gateway in the transport of material between circulation and the tissues. Inflammatory mediators such as thrombin are able to open paracellular spaces in the endothelial monolayer to allow the extravasation of plasma proteins and leukocytes. Here we show that the protein SLIT-ROBO Rho GTPase-activating protein 2 (srGAP2) plays a critical role in regulating the extent of thrombin-mediated opening. We show that srGAP2 is not required for normal barrier function in resting endothelial cells, but that depletion of srGAP2 significantly increases the magnitude and duration of junctional opening in response to thrombin. We show that srGAP2 acts to switch off RhoA signaling after the contraction phase of thrombin-induced permeability, allowing respreading of cells and reformation of the barrier. srGAP2 is also required for effective restoration of the barrier after treatment with two other vasoactive agents that active RhoA – TNFα and angiotensin II. Taken together, we show that srGAP2 has a general function in controlling RhoA signaling in endothelial permeability, acting to limit the degree and duration of opening, by triggering the switch from endothelial cell contraction to respreading.

Open access

Ferran Medina-Jover, Antoni Riera-Mestre, and Francesc Viñals

Angiogenesis is an essential process for correct development and physiology. This mechanism is tightly regulated by many signals that activate several pathways, which are constantly interacting with each other. There is mounting evidence that BMP9/ALK1 pathway is essential for a correct vessel maturation. Alterations in this pathway lead to the development of hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasias. However, little was known about the BMP9 signalling cascade until the last years. Recent reports have shown that while BMP9 arrests cell cycle, it promotes the activation of anabolic pathways to enhance endothelial maturation. In light of this evidence, a new criterion for the classification of cytokines is proposed here, based on the physiological objective of the activation of anabolic routes. Whether this activation by a growth factor is needed to sustain mitosis or to promote a specific function such as matrix formation is a critical characteristic that needs to be considered to classify growth factors. Hence, the state-of-the-art of BMP9/ALK1 signalling is reviewed here, as well as its implications in normal and pathogenic angiogenesis.

Open access

Maria Luigia Carbone and Cristina Maria Failla

Interleukins (ILs) are the group of cytokines firstly identified as expressed by leukocytes and playing different immunomodulatory functions. With increasing evidence of a constant crosstalk between leukocytes and endothelial cells in the regulation of immune cell differentiation and activation, a role of ILs also in endothelial cell stimulation and vascular inflammation has been shown. ILs act on endothelial cells both in an autocrine and a paracrine manner. In fact, a cross regulation is present among ILs expressed by different cell types, leading to amplification or blocking of the initial inflammatory signal with the secretion of additional ILs or involvement of other adjacent cells and tissues. Based on selective structural features, ILs can be divided into four major groups, a fifth group comprises ILs that do not fit into any of the other four. Most of the ILs playing a role in endothelial cell activation belong to the IL1-like cytokine group, but the number of ILs involved in vascular inflammation is constantly growing, and a special contribution of IL6, IL8, and IL17 has been underlined. This review aims at presenting current knowledge and at underling missing information about the role of IL in activating endothelial cells in selected pathological settings such as tumours, psoriasis, systemic sclerosis, and viral infection.