Vascular dysfunctions are a common feature of multiple age-related diseases. However, modeling healthy and pathological aging of the human vasculature represents an unresolved experimental challenge. Here, we generated induced vascular endothelial cells (iVECs) and smooth muscle cells (iSMCs) by direct reprogramming of healthy human fibroblasts from donors of different ages and Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) patients. iVECs induced from old donors revealed upregulation of GSTM1 and PALD1, genes linked to oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial junction stability, as vascular aging markers. A functional assay performed on PALD1 KD VECs demonstrated a recovery in vascular permeability. We found that iSMCs from HGPS donors overexpressed bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4, which plays a key role in both vascular calcification and endothelial barrier damage observed in HGPS. Strikingly, BMP4 concentrations are higher in serum from HGPS vs. age-matched mice. Furthermore, targeting BMP4 with blocking antibody recovered the functionality of the vascular barrier in vitro, hence representing a potential future therapeutic strategy to limit cardiovascular dysfunction in HGPS. These results show that iVECs and iSMCs retain disease-related signatures, allowing modeling of vascular aging and HGPS in vitro.
Keywords: aging; direct reprogramming; endothelial cell; human; hutchinson-gilford progeria syndrome; medicine; mouse; smooth muscle cell; vascular barrier.
© 2020, Bersini et al.