Vascular stiffness is a major cause of cardiovascular disease during normal aging and in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), a rare genetic disorder caused by ubiquitous progerin expression. This mutant form of lamin A causes premature aging associated with cardiovascular alterations that lead to death at an average age of 14.6 years. We investigated the mechanisms underlying vessel stiffness in LmnaG609G/G609G mice with ubiquitous progerin expression, and tested the effect of treatment with nitrites. We also bred LmnaLCS/LCS Tie2Cre+/tg and LmnaLCS/LCS SM22αCre+/tg mice, which express progerin specifically in endothelial cells (ECs) and in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), respectively, to determine the specific contribution of each cell type to vascular pathology. We found vessel stiffness and inward remodeling in arteries of LmnaG609G/G609G and LmnaLCS/LCS SM22αCre+/tg , but not in those from LmnaLCS/LCS Tie2Cre+/tg mice. Structural alterations in aortas of progeroid mice were associated with decreased smooth muscle tissue content, increased collagen deposition, and decreased transverse waving of elastin layers in the media. Functional studies identified collagen (unlike elastin and the cytoskeleton) as an underlying cause of aortic stiffness in progeroid mice. Consistent with this, we found increased deposition of collagens III, IV, V, and XII in the media of progeroid aortas. Vessel stiffness and inward remodeling in progeroid mice were prevented by adding sodium nitrite in drinking water. In conclusion, LmnaG609G/G609G arteries exhibit stiffness and inward remodeling, mainly due to progerin-induced damage to VSMCs, which causes increased deposition of medial collagen and a secondary alteration in elastin structure. Treatment with nitrites prevents vascular stiffness in progeria.
Keywords: aging; dietary nitrite; progeria; smooth muscle cells; vascular stiffness.
© 2019 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.