Abstract 467: PCSK6 Is Upregulated in Vascular Diseases Characterized by Inflammation and Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation
Recently we demonstrated upregulation of the proprotein convertase PCSK6 in a large cohort of human carotid atherosclerotic plaques (n=127) compared to normal arteries and in symptomatic vs. asymptomatic lesions. PCSK6 was localized to smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in the fibrous cap and showed a positive correlation to markers of inflammation, extracellular matrix remodeling and cytokines. Here, we aimed at elucidating the role of this protease in vascular disease by examining its expression in different human pathologies and in animal models.
Increased expression of PCSK6 in vascular diseases was validated in public microarray datasets and other available human cohorts. PCSK6 was upregulated in carotid atherosclerotic plaques vs. controls (n=32 patients, p<0.0001), as well as in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) vs. normal tissue (n=14, p<0.0001) and in thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) tissue from bicuspid vs. tricuspid patients (n=244, p=0.012). By eQTL analyses, several SNPs in the PCSK6 genomic region were shown to influence its expression in carotid plaques and TAA tissue. Among these, rs6598465 showed a mild association to progression of maximum intima-media thickness in the left and right arteries in a separate cohort of high-risk coronary artery disease subjects (n=3400, p=0.037). By immunohistochemistry, PCSK6 localized mainly to SMCs in carotid plaques, AAA and TAA tissue, but was also found to be expressed by CD68 and CD163+ macrophages. Investigation of mouse, rat and human artery tissues with pronounced intimal hyperplasia revealed strong expression of PCSK6 in proliferating SMCs. In rat carotid artery balloon injury, PCSK6 was downregulated in the early phases after injury mostly defined by inflammatory response, while upregulated in later phases with prominent SMC activation, and consistently localized in SMCs. Expression of PCSK6 in this model was strongly positively correlated solely to PDGFB and IGF1 (p<0.0001), cytokines known to induce SMC proliferation.
We established a functional link between elevated expression of PCSK6 and vascular diseases characterized by inflammation and SMC proliferation. Further investigations in vitro are necessary to provide mechanistic insight into the role of this protease in vascular disease.
Author Disclosures: L. Perisic: None. A. Razuvaev: None. C. Österholm: None. M. Lengquist: None. M. Sabater-Lleal: None. L. Folkersen: None. L. Du: None. M. Gonzalez Diez: None. E. Hedin: None. F. Ponten: None. G. Paulsson-Berne: None. A. Hamsten: None. J. Odeberg: None. P. Eriksson: None. U. Hedin: None.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.