Metabolism of vascular smooth muscle cells in vascular diseases

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2020 Sep 1;319(3):H613-H631. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00220.2020. Epub 2020 Aug 7.


Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are the fundamental component of the medial layer of arteries and are essential for arterial physiology and pathology. It is becoming increasingly clear that VSMCs can alter their metabolism to fulfill the bioenergetic and biosynthetic requirements. During vascular injury, VSMCs switch from a quiescent "contractile" phenotype to a highly migratory and proliferative "synthetic" phenotype. Recent studies have found that the phenotype switching of VSMCs is driven by a metabolic switch. Metabolic pathways, including aerobic glycolysis, fatty acid oxidation, and amino acid metabolism, have distinct, indispensable roles in normal and dysfunctional vasculature. VSMCs metabolism is also related to the metabolism of endothelial cells. In the present review, we present a brief overview of VSMCs metabolism and how it regulates the progression of several vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, systemic hypertension, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, vascular calcification, and aneurysms, and the effect of the risk factors for vascular disease (aging, cigarette smoking, and excessive alcohol drinking) on VSMC metabolism to clarify the role of VSMCs metabolism in the key pathological process.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; calcification; metabolism; pulmonary hypertension; vascular smooth muscle cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Vascular Diseases / pathology
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology