Resistin-like molecule beta augments phenotypic modulation of human aortic smooth muscle cell triggered by high glucose

Endocr J. 2021 Apr 28;68(4):461-468. doi: 10.1507/endocrj.EJ20-0343. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Vascular muscle cells (VSMCs) participate in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis. Resistin-like molecule beta (Relmβ) contributes to atherosclerosis development by activating macrophage. This study aims to investigate whether Relmβ regulates VSMC phenotypic modulation under high glucose environment. Human aortic vascular smooth muscle cells were cultured and treated with Relmβ in the presence or absence of high glucose. VSMC phenotypic modulation was assessed by expression of related markers. The migration of VSMCs was detected by wound healing assay and transwell assay. The proliferation of VSMCs was measured using CCK-8 assay. In this study, we observed that Relmβ modulated VSMC phenotypic modulation by down-regulating expression of smooth muscle α-actin (α-SMA), smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SM-MHC), and calponin while up-regulating expression of osteopontin (OPN). Relmβ increased the expression of inflammatory genes in VSMCs. Relmβ also augmented VSMCs migration as well as proliferation. It is worth noting that all the effects of VSMCs were enhanced upon high glucose stimulation. The phosphorylation levels of p38MAPK and ERK1/2 were increased by co-treatment with Relmβ and high glucose. The p38 MAPK pathway inhibitor RWJ64809 and pERK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 significantly inhibited the proliferation of VSMCs induced by Relmβ and high glucose. Our results provide evidence that Relmβ augments phenotypic modulation and migration of human aortic smooth muscle cell induced by high glucose. Relmβ might be a potential target for treatment of atherosclerosis induced by hyperglycemia.

Keywords: High glucose; Phenotypic modulation; Resistin-like molecule beta; Vascular smooth muscle cell.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Aorta / drug effects*
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / drug effects*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Actins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • RETNLB protein, human
  • Glucose