Aims: Neuropilins 1 and 2 (NRP1 and NRP2) play crucial roles in endothelial cell migration contributing to angiogenesis and vascular development. Both NRPs are also expressed by cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and are implicated in VSMC migration stimulated by PDGF-BB, but it is unknown whether NRPs are relevant for VSMC function in vivo. We investigated the role of NRPs in the rat carotid balloon injury model, in which endothelial denudation and arterial stretch induce neointimal hyperplasia involving VSMC migration and proliferation.
Methods and results: NRP1 and NRP2 mRNAs and proteins increased significantly following arterial injury, and immunofluorescent staining revealed neointimal NRP expression. Down-regulation of NRP1 and NRP2 using shRNA significantly reduced neointimal hyperplasia following injury. Furthermore, inhibition of NRP1 by adenovirally overexpressing a loss-of-function NRP1 mutant lacking the cytoplasmic domain (ΔC) reduced neointimal hyperplasia, whereas wild-type (WT) NRP1 had no effect. NRP-targeted shRNAs impaired, while overexpression of NRP1 WT and NRP1 ΔC enhanced, arterial re-endothelialization 14 days after injury. Knockdown of either NRP1 or NRP2 inhibited PDGF-BB-induced rat VSMC migration, whereas knockdown of NRP2, but not NRP1, reduced proliferation of cultured rat VSMC and neointimal VSMC in vivo. NRP knockdown also reduced the phosphorylation of PDGFα and PDGFβ receptors in rat VSMC, which mediate VSMC migration and proliferation.
Conclusion: NRP1 and NRP2 play important roles in the regulation of neointimal hyperplasia in vivo by modulating VSMC migration (via NRP1 and NRP2) and proliferation (via NRP2), independently of the role of NRPs in re-endothelialization.
Keywords: Endothelial cells; Neointimal hyperplasia; Neuropilins; Re-endothelialization; Smooth muscle cells.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.