Background: Multiple lines of investigation have implicated hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) as an important endogenous mediator of cell proliferation in the vessel wall. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein C (hnRNP-C), a nuclear pre-mRNA binding protein that plays roles in vertebrate cell proliferation and differentiation, has been identified as a component of a vascular cell signaling pathway activated by low physiologic levels of H(2)O(2). The expression of hnRNP-C in human arteries has not previously been assessed.
Methods: Segments of human proximal internal carotid arteries were evaluated for the expression of hnRNP-C by immunohistochemistry.
Results: In normal proximal internal carotid arteries, hnRNP-C is expressed predominantly by the endothelium, with significantly lower expression by medial smooth muscle. In preatherosclerotic intimal hyperplasia, hnRNP-C is up-regulated in the artery wall, due to the robust expression by the intimal smooth muscle cells, without up-regulation in the medial smooth muscle cells. In arteries with atherosclerotic lesions, there is strong expression of hnRNP-C not only by intimal cells but also by medial smooth muscle cells.
Conclusions: The H(2)O(2) responsive pre-mRNA binding protein hnRNP-C is up-regulated in atherosclerosis and in preatherosclerotic intimal hyperplasia in humans, supporting the hypothesis that H(2)O(2) is a regulator of vascular cell proliferation in these conditions. These data also suggest that hnRNP-C may be useful as a marker of vascular cell activation.