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Fibroblast Nox2 (NADPH Oxidase-2) Regulates ANG II (Angiotensin II)–Induced Vascular Remodeling and Hypertension via Paracrine Signaling to Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Accepted/In press1 Oct 2020
E-pub ahead of print15 Oct 2020


King's Authors


OBJECTIVE:The superoxide-generating Nox2 (NADPH oxidase-2) is expressed in multiple cell types. Previous studies demonstrated distinct roles for cardiomyocyte, endothelial cell, and leukocyte cell Nox2 in ANG II (angiotensin II)–induced cardiovascular remodeling. However, the in vivo role of fibroblast Nox2 remains unclear.
APPROACH AND RESULTS:We developed a novel mouse model with inducible fibroblast-specific deficiency of Nox2 (fibroblast-specific Nox2 knockout or Fibro-Nox2KO mice) and investigated the responses to chronic ANG II stimulation. Fibro-Nox2KO mice showed no differences in basal blood pressure or vessel wall morphology, but the hypertensive response to ANG II infusion (1.1 mg/[kg·day] for 14 days) was substantially reduced as compared to control Nox2-Flox littermates. This was accompanied by a significant attenuation of aortic and resistance vessel remodeling. The conditioned medium of ANG II–stimulated primary fibroblasts induced a significant increase in vascular smooth muscle cell growth, which was inhibited by the short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of fibroblast Nox2. Mass spectrometric analysis of the secretome of ANG II–treated primary fibroblasts identified GDF6 (growth differentiation factor 6) as a potential growth factor that may be involved in these effects. Recombinant GDF6 induced a concentration-dependent increase in vascular smooth muscle cell growth while chronic ANG II infusion in vivo significantly increased aortic GDF6 protein levels in control mice but not Fibro-Nox2KO animals. Finally, silencing GDF6 in fibroblasts prevented the induction of vascular smooth muscle cell growth by fibroblast-conditioned media in vitro.
CONCLUSIONS:These results indicate that fibroblast Nox2 plays a crucial role in the development of ANG II–induced vascular remodeling and hypertension in vivo. Mechanistically, fibroblast Nox2 may regulate paracrine signaling to medial vascular smooth muscle cells via factors, such as GDF6.

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