Endothelial dysfunction is characterized by multiple interactions between endothelial cells and components of the blood. This study focussed on the induction of the pro-atherogenic connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in endothelial cells by bioactive lipids and platelets. Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) led to a time- and concentration-dependent increase in CTGF mRNA and protein expression in the human endothelial cell line EAHY 926 and in primary cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). As both cell types expressed various receptors for LPA and S1P, signaling pathways were further characterized by pharmacological means: induction of CTGF was pertussis toxin-insensitive and inhibition of activation of p42/44 MAP kinases only partially reduced CTGF expression. On the contrary, interference with the RhoA signaling pathway by simvastatin, an inhibitor of geranylgeranyltransferases, or the Rho-kinase inhibitor Y27632 prevented induction of CTGF. Co-incubation of endothelial cells with freshly isolated human platelets significantly increased the expression of CTGF mRNA in endothelial cells, which was also sensitive to simvastatin. Up-regulation of CTGF in endothelial cells, induced by LPA, S1P, or platelets, may contribute to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Interference of simvastatin with the synthesis of this pro-atherogenic factor further supports the anti-atherogenic role of statins.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd