The migration and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) during neointima formation in atherosclerosis and angioplasty restenosis is mediated by certain growth factors and cytokines, one action of which may be to promote basement-membrane degradation. To test this hypothesis further, the effects of such growth factors and cytokines on the synthesis of two basement-membrane-degrading metalloproteinases, namely the 72 kDa gelatinase (MMP-2, gelatinase A) and the 95 kDa gelatinase (MMP-9, gelatinase B) and three tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) was studied in primary cultured rabbit aortic SMCs. Expression of the 95 kDa gelatinase was increased by phorbol myristate acetate, foetal calf serum, thrombin and interleukin-1α (IL-1α); platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) BB alone had no effect but acted synergistically with IL-1α. A selective protein kinase C inhibitor, Ro 31-8220, abolished induction of the 95 kDa gelatinase. In contrast, none of the agents tested modulated the synthesis of the 72 kDa gelatinase. We conclude that maximal up-regulation of 95 kDa gelatinase expression requires the concerted action of growth factors and inflammatory cytokines mediated, in part, by a protein kinase C-dependent pathway. TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 were highly expressed, and their synthesis was not affected by growth factors or cytokines. Expression of TIMP-3 mRNAs was, however, increased by PDGF and transforming growth factor β, especially in combination. Divergent regulation of gelatinase and TIMP expression implies that either net synthesis or net degradation of basement membrane can be mediated by appropriate combinations of growth factors and cytokines.

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Author notes

Present address: Vascular Medicine and Atherosclerosis Unit, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 221 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115, U.S.A.

Present address: Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol BS2 8HW, U.K.