Transforming growth factor beta 1 promotes the differentiation of endothelial cells into smooth muscle-like cells in vitro

E Arciniegas, A B Sutton, T D Allen, A M Schor

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    241 Citations (Scopus)


    Alpha-smooth muscle actin is considered a reliable marker for distinguishing between arterial smooth muscle and endothelial cells. Several authors have reported heterogeneity in the expression of this actin isoform in atherosclerotic lesions. Such heterogeneity appears to result from the presence of different smooth muscle cell phenotypes (contractile and synthetic) in these lesions. In the present study, we show that bovine aortic endothelial cells, which are characterised by the presence of Factor VIII-related antigen (FVIII) and by the absence of alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SM actin) may be induced to express the latter when exposed to TGF-beta 1. FVIII was detected by immunofluorescence, alpha-SM actin was detected by immunofluorescence and immunoblotting. The number of cells expressing alpha-SM actin increased with time of incubation with TGF-beta 1, and this increase occurred concomitantly with a decrease in the expression of FVIII. Double immunofluorescence demonstrated the presence of cells that expressed both FVIII and alpha-SM actin after 5 days of incubation with TGF-beta 1. With longer incubation times (10-20 days) the loss of FVIII expression was complete and over 90% of the cells expressed alpha-SM actin. Ultrastructurally, cells in control cultures showed the typical features of endothelial cells. In the TGF-beta 1-treated cultures, cells which appeared indistinguishable from contractile and synthetic smooth muscle cells were observed. Withdrawal of TGF-beta 1 after 10 days incubation resulted in the re-appearance of polygonal cells which were FVIII-positive and alpha-SM actin-negative.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)521-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Cell Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


    • Actins/metabolism
    • Animals
    • Aorta/cytology
    • Cattle
    • Cell Differentiation/drug effects
    • Cells, Cultured
    • Endothelium, Vascular/cytology
    • Microscopy, Electron
    • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular/cytology
    • Retinal Vessels/cytology
    • Time Factors
    • Transforming Growth Factor beta/pharmacology
    • von Willebrand Factor/metabolism


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