Thyroid hormones have marked cardiovascular effects in vivo. However, their direct effects on vascular smooth muscle cells have been unclear. Because thyroid hormones play critical roles in bone remodeling, we hypothesized that they are also associated with vascular smooth muscle calcification, one of the pathological features of vascular sclerosis. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of 3′,3,5-triiodo-L-thyronine (T3) on the expression of calcification-associated genes in rat aortic smooth muscle cells (RAOSMCs). Quantitative RT-PCRs revealed that a physiological concentration of T3 (15 pmol/L free T3) increased mRNA level of matrix Gla protein (MGP), which acts as a potent inhibitor of vascular calcification in vivo, by 3-fold in RAOSMCs, as well as in cultured human coronary artery smooth muscle cells. In RAOSMCs transiently transfected with a luciferase reporter gene driven by the MGP promoter, T3 significantly stimulated luciferase activity. In addition, RNA interference against thyroid hormone receptor-α gene diminished the effect of T3 on MGP expression. Aortic smooth muscle tissues from methimazole-induced hypothyroid rats (400 mg/L drinking water; 4 weeks) also showed a 68% decrease in the MGP mRNA level, as well as a 33% increase in calcium content compared with that from the control euthyroid animals, whereas hyperthyroidism (0.2 mg T3/kg IP; 10 days) upregulated MGP mRNA by 4.5-fold and reduced calcium content by 11%. Our findings suggest that a physiological concentration of thyroid hormone directly facilitates MGP gene expression in smooth muscle cells via thyroid hormone nuclear receptors, leading to prevention of vascular calcification in vivo.
|Number of pages
|Published - Sept 16 2005
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine