Senescent Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells Drive Inflammation Through an Interleukin-1α–Dependent Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotype
Objective—Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that become senescent are both present within atherosclerotic plaques and thought to be important to the disease process. However, senescent VSMCs are generally considered to only contribute through inaction, with failure to proliferate resulting in VSMC- and collagen-poor unstable fibrous caps. Whether senescent VSMCs can actively contribute to atherogenic processes, such as inflammation, is unknown.
Approach and Results—We find that senescent human VSMCs develop a proinflammatory state known as a senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Senescent human VSMCs release high levels of multiple cytokines and chemokines driven by secreted interleukin-1α acting in an autocrine manner. Consequently, the VSMC senescence-associated secretory phenotype promotes chemotaxis of mononuclear cells in vitro and in vivo. In addition, senescent VSMCs release active matrix metalloproteinase-9, secrete less collagen, upregulate multiple inflammasome components, and prime adjacent endothelial cells and VSMCs to a proadhesive and proinflammatory state. Importantly, maintaining the senescence-associated secretory phenotype places a large metabolic burden on senescent VSMCs, such that they can be selectively killed by inhibiting glucose utilization.
Conclusions—Senescent VSMCs may actively contribute toward the chronic inflammation associated with atherosclerosis through the interleukin-1α–driven senescence-associated secretory phenotype and the priming of adjacent cells to a proatherosclerotic state. These data also suggest that inhibition of this potentially important source of chronic inflammation in atherosclerosis requires blockade of interleukin-1α and not interleukin-1β.
- Received February 25, 2015.
- Accepted June 21, 2015.
- © 2015 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wolters Kluwer.
© 2015 The Authors.
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology is published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wolters Kluwer. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original work is properly cited.