Role of RhoA and Rho-associated kinase in phenotypic switching of vascular smooth muscle cells: Implications for vascular function

Tedy Sawma, Abdullah Shaito, Nicolas Najm, Munir Sidani, Alexander Orekhov, Ahmed F. El-Yazbi, Rabah Iratni, Ali H. Eid

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the primary cause of global mortality. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are integral components of vascular structure and function, evident by their vital roles in modulating blood flow and pressure. Such roles exist due to the differentiated contractile phenotype of VSMCs. However, VSMCs may switch to a dedifferentiated, proliferative synthetic phenotype in a phenomenon known as phenotypic switching. This switch involves dramatic changes in VSMC migration, proliferation, gene expression programs, differentiation, cellular stiffness and extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. In this review, we explore the role of the small GTPase Rho and its effector, Rho-associated kinase (ROCK), in phenotypic switching as well as apoptotic pathways in VSMCs. We critically dissect how RhoA promotes cell migration and proliferation as well as its role in modulating the expression of a battery of VSMC marker proteins. We also discuss how RhoA modulates apoptosis, induces dedifferentiation, increases vascular stiffness, or modifies ECM accumulation. These alterations in VSMC phenotypes contribute to multiple vascular dysfunctions, including hypertension and atherosclerosis. Understanding the molecular underpinnings and the signaling pathways involved in these altered phenotypes may provide novel avenues of drug design and other therapeutic interventions for the management of CVDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-28
Number of pages17
JournalAtherosclerosis
Volume358
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Phenotypic switch
  • Rho kinase
  • RhoA
  • Vascular smooth muscle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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