M Mayr, A Zampetaki, A Sidibe, U Mayr, X Yin, AI De Souza, Y-L Chung, B Madhu, PH Quax, Y Hu, JR Griffiths, Q Xu
We have recently demonstrated that stem cell antigen 1-positive (Sca-1(+)) progenitors exist in the vascular adventitia of apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mice and contribute to smooth muscle cell (SMC) accumulation in vein graft atherosclerosis. Using a combined proteomic and metabolomic approach, we now characterize these local progenitors, which participate in the formation of native atherosclerotic lesions in chow-fed apoE(-/-) mice. Unlike Sca-1(+) progenitors from embryonic stem cells, the resident Sca-1(+) stem cell population from the vasculature acquired a mature aortic SMC phenotype after platelet-derived growth factor-BB stimulation. It shared proteomic and metabolomic characteristics of apoE(-/-) SMCs, which were clearly distinct from wild-type SMCs under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Among the differentially expressed proteins were key enzymes in glucose metabolism, resulting in faster glucose consumption and a compensatory reduction in baseline interleukin-6 secretion. The latter was associated with a marked upregulation of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) 3 and 6. Notably, reconstitution of interleukin-6 to levels measured in the conditioned medium of wild-type SMCs attenuated the elevated IGFBP expression in apoE(-/-) SMCs and their vascular progenitors. This coregulation of apoE, interleukin-6, and IGFBPs was replicated in wild-type SMCs from hypercholesterolemic mice and confirmed by silencing apoE expression in SMCs from normocholesterolemic mice. In summary, we provide evidence that Sca-1(+) progenitors contribute to native atherosclerosis in apoE(-/-) mice, that apoE deficiency and hypercholesterolemia alter progenitor cell behavior, and that inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 act as metabolic regulators in SMCs of hyperlipidemic mice.