Transforming growth factor β1 suppresses proinflammatory gene program independent of its regulation on vascular smooth muscle differentiation and autophagy

Ping Gao, Wen Wu, Jiemei Ye, Yao Wei Lu, Alejandro Pablo Adam, Harold A. Singer, Xiaochun Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling plays crucial roles in maintaining vascular integrity and homeostasis, and is established as a strong activator of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) differentiation. Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of various vascular diseases. Although TGFβ signaling has been suggested to be protective against inflammatory aortic aneurysm progression, its exact effects on VSMC inflammatory process and the underlying mechanisms are not fully unraveled. Here we revealed that TGFβ1 suppressed the expression of a broad array of proinflammatory genes while potently induced the expression of contractile genes in cultured primary human coronary artery SMCs (HCASMCs). The regulation of TGFβ1 on VSMC contractile and proinflammatory gene programs appeared to occur in parallel and both processes were through a SMAD4-dependent canonical pathway. We also showed evidence that the suppression of TGFβ1 on VSMC proinflammatory genes was mediated, at least partially through the blockade of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and NF-κB pathways. Interestingly, our RNA-seq data also revealed that TGFβ1 suppressed gene expression of a battery of autophagy mediators, which was validated by western blot for the conversion of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) and by immunofluo-rescence staining for LC3 puncta. However, impairment of VSMC autophagy by ATG5 deletion failed to rescue TGFβ1 influence on both VSMC contractile and proinflammatory gene programs, suggesting that TGFβ1-regulated VSMC differentiation and inflammation are not attributed to TGFβ1 suppression on autophagy. In summary, our results demonstrated an important role of TGFβ signaling in suppressing proinflammatory gene program in cultured primary human VSMCs via the blockade on STAT3 and NF-κB pathway, therefore providing novel insights into the mechanisms underlying the protective role of TGFβ signaling in vascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalCellular Signalling
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagy
  • Contractile phenotype
  • Inflammation
  • Transforming growth factor β1
  • Vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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