Abstract 372: The Smad3 Pathway Critically Regulates Myofibroblast Proliferation And Synthetic Activity In Healing Myocardial Infarcts
We have recently demonstrated that the Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-β/Smad3 pathway is activated in healing infarcts and plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of cardiac remodeling. Smad3 −/− mice were protected from the development of ventricular dilation following infarction and exhibited markedly reduced fibrosis of the peri-infarct area and the remodeling non-infarcted heart. Accordingly, we hypothesized that Smad3 signaling plays an essential role in regulating cardiac fibroblast function and gene expression in myocardial infarction. Surprisingly, Smad3 −/− infarcts exhibited increased peak infiltration with myofibroblasts, associated with evidence of enhanced proliferative activity. Smad3 −/− mice had a higher density of Ki-67-positive proliferating myofibroblasts in the infarcted myocardium in comparison with wildtype (WT) animals (Smad3−/− 917±291 cells/mm2 vs. WT 614±115 cells/mm2, p<0.05). In vitro experiments suggested that TGF-β inhibits murine cardiac fibroblast proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner and that the antiproliferative effects of TGF-β are abrogated in Smad3 −/− fibroblasts. On the other hand Smad3 signaling was essential for extracellular matrix protein synthesis by cardiac fibroblasts. TGF-β-mediated induction of procollagen type III and of the matricellular protein tenascin-C in cardiac fibroblasts was dependent on Smad3. In addition, TGF-β-induced Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 and -2 upregulation was also abrogated in Smad3 −/− fibroblasts, suggesting that Smad3 signaling regulates matrix metabolism. In vivo, Smad3 −/− infarcts exhibited attenuated tenascin-C and collagen deposition in the infarct and in the remodeling non-infarcted heart. Our findings suggest that the Smad3 pathway critically regulates fibroblast function in healing myocardial infarction. In Smad3 −/− mice, the healing infarct contains abundant myofibroblasts that exhibit enhanced proliferative activity, but have markedly decreased ability to synthesize extracellular matrix proteins and to produce TIMPs. In the absence of Smad3, attenuated matrix deposition in the remodeling non-infarcted heart results in decreased dilation and ameliorated diastolic dysfunction.
This research has received full or partial funding support from the American Heart Association, AHA South Central Affiliate (Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas).