HighlightsHuman coronary artery endothelial cells show a biological response to cigarette smoke.This response was not seen following exposure to e-cigarette aerosol.Using e-cigarettes instead of cigarettes may reduce immediate cardiovascular harms.
Raised endothelial shear stress is protective against atherosclerosis but such protection may be lost at sites of inflammation. We found that four splice variants of the peptidase inhibitor 16 (PI16) mRNA are among the most highly shear stress regulated transcripts in human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs), in vitro but that expression is reduced by inflammatory mediators TNFα and IL-1β. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that PI16 is expressed in human coronary endothelium and in a subset of neointimal cells and medial smooth muscle cells. Adenovirus-mediated PI16 overexpression inhibits HCAEC migration and secreted matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity. Moreover, PI16 inhibits MMP2 in part by binding an exposed peptide loop above the active site. Our results imply that, at high endothelial shear stress, PI16 contributes to inhibition of protease activity; protection that can be reversed during inflammation.
Endothelial dysfunction caused by the combined action of disturbed flow, inflammatory mediators and oxidants derived from cigarette smoke is known to promote coronary atherosclerosis and increase the likelihood of myocardial infarctions and strokes. Conversely, laminar flow protects against endothelial dysfunction, at least in the initial phases of atherogenesis. We studied the effects of TNFα and cigarette smoke extract on human coronary artery endothelial cells under oscillatory, normal laminar and elevated laminar shear stress for a period of 72 hours. We found, firstly, that laminar flow fails to overcome the inflammatory effects of TNFα under these conditions but that cigarette smoke induces an anti-oxidant response that appears to reduce endothelial inflammation. Elevated laminar flow, TNFα and cigarette smoke extract synergise to induce expression of the transcriptional regulator activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3), which we show by adenovirus driven overexpression, decreases inflammatory gene expression independently of activation of nuclear factor-κB. Our results illustrate the importance of studying endothelial dysfunction in vitro over prolonged periods. They also identify ATF3 as an important protective factor against endothelial dysfunction. Modulation of ATF3 expression may represent a novel approach to modulate proinflammatory gene expression and open new therapeutic avenues to treat proinflammatory diseases.
DNA hypomethylation at the F2RL3 locus has been associated with both smoking and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; whether these smoking-related associations form a pathway to disease is unknown. F2RL3 encodes protease-activated receptor 4, a potent thrombin receptor expressed on platelets. Given the role of thrombin in platelet activation and the role of thrombus formation in myocardial infarction, alterations to this biological pathway could be important for ischemic cardiovascular disease.
We conducted multiple independent experiments to assess whether DNA hypomethylation at F2RL3 in response to smoking is associated with risk of myocardial infarction via changes to platelet reactivity. Using cohort data (N=3,205), we explored the relationship between smoking, DNA hypomethylation at F2RL3 and myocardial infarction. We compared platelet reactivity in individuals with low versus high DNA methylation at F2RL3 (N=41). We used an in vitro model to explore the biological response of F2RL3 to cigarette smoke extract (CSE). Finally, a series of reporter constructs were used to investigate how differential methylation could impact F2RL3 gene expression.
Observationally, DNA methylation at F2RL3 mediated an estimated 34% of the smoking effect on increased risk of myocardial infarction. An association between methylation group (low/high) and platelet reactivity was observed in response to PAR4 stimulation. In cells, CSE exposure was associated with a 4.9 to 9.3% reduction in DNA methylation at F2RL3 and a corresponding 1.7 (95% CI: 1.2, 2.4, p=0.04) fold increase in F2RL3 mRNA. Results from reporter assays suggest the exon 2 region of F2RL3 may help control gene expression.
Smoking-induced epigenetic DNA hypomethylation at F2RL3 appears to increase PAR4 expression with potential downstream consequences for platelet reactivity. Combined evidence here not only identifies F2RL3 DNA methylation as a possible contributory pathway from smoking to cardiovascular disease risk, but from any feature potentially influencing F2RL3 regulation in a similar manner.
Protease-activated receptor 4 (PAR4) is a potent thrombin receptor. Epigenetic control of the F2RL3 locus (which encodes for PAR4) via DNA methylation is associated with both smoking and cardiovascular disease. We examined the association between DNA hypomethylation at F2RL3 and risk of cardiovascular disease, focusing on acute myocardial infarction (AMI) (n=853 cases / 2,352 controls). We used in vitro cell models to dissect the role of DNA methylation in regulating expression of F2RL3. We investigated the interplay between F2RL3 DNA methylation and platelet function in human (n=41). Lastly, we used Mendelian randomization to unify observational and functional work by assessing evidence for causal relationships using data from UK Biobank (n=407,141) and CARDIoGRAMplusC4D (n=184,305). Observationally, one standard deviation (SD) decrease in DNA methylation at F2RL3 was associated with a 25% increase in the odds of AMI. In vitro, short-term exposure of cells to cigarette smoke reduced F2RL3 DNA methylation and increased gene expression.Transcriptional assays flagged a role for a CEBP recognition sequence in modulating the enhancer activity of F2RL3 exon 2. Lower DNA methylation at F2RL3 was associated with increased platelet reactivity in human. The estimated casual odds ratio of ischaemic heart disease was 1.03 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.07) per 1 SD decrease in F2RL3 DNA. In conclusion, we show that DNA methylation-dependent platelet activation is part of a complex system of features contributing to cardiovascular health. Tailoring therapeutic intervention to new knowledge of F2RL3/PAR4 function should be explored to ameliorate the detrimental effects of this risk factor on cardiovascular health.
defines a diagnostic yield of just 8/536 (6%) in this patient group, using known aortopathy gene panels. Surprisingly, none of these variants were found in probands under 30 at disease onset. There were 68 classic trios in this cohort (proband + mother and father). However, just one of these has a clearly pathogenic de novo variant identified (in MYH11). There were just 2 Tier 2 variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in aortopathy genes in other trios. 10 larger family structures have yielded no clear pathogenic candidates to date. The majority of the cohort are recruited as singletons. 75 Tier 2 variants have been identified to date in 19 aortopathy genes (see figure 1). Just 1 of these (in LOX) can be classified as likely pathogenic. The remainder are VUSs. Conclusion In this genetically pre-screened cohort with FTAAD, genetic diagnosis remains elusive. The variety of genes in which protein-altering variants are found highlights the genetic heterogeneity of this condition. We plan further systematic studies of the family structures available in the 100,000 Genomes Project and case:control studies to further elucidate the genetic architecture of FTAAD. The negative findings to date, particularly in probands with young-onset aortopathy, make it likely that responsible genes are yet to be discovered in many cases. This research was made possible through access to the data and findings generated by the 100,000 Genomes Project.
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