Maintenance of normal endothelial function is critical to various aspects of blood vessel function, but its regulation is poorly understood. In this study, we show that disruption of baseline fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling to the endothelium leads to a dramatic reduction in let-7 miRNA levels that, in turn, increases expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β ligands and receptors and activation of TGF-β signaling, leading to endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (Endo-MT). We also find that Endo-MT is an important driver of neointima formation in a murine transplant arteriopathy model and in rejection of human transplant lesions. The decline in endothelial FGF signaling input is due to the appearance of an FGF resistance state that is characterized by inflammation-dependent reduction in expression and activation of key components of the FGF signaling cascade. These results establish FGF signaling as a critical factor in maintenance of endothelial homeostasis and point to an unexpected role of Endo-MT in vascular pathology.
Copyright © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.