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Atherosclerosis. 2006 Sep;188(1):1-11. Epub 2006 Jan 24.

Cadherin:catenin complex: a novel regulator of vascular smooth muscle cell behaviour.

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  • 1Bristol Heart Institute, Level 7, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 9HW, UK.


Dysfunctional vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) behaviour contributes to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and restenosis. Increased rates of VSMC apoptosis are thought to lead to thinning of the fibrous atherosclerotic plaque and thereby instability, while migration of VSMCs to the intima, and inappropriate VSMC proliferation, contribute to intimal thickening that occurs in atherosclerosis and restenosis. Studies, mainly in cancer and neuronal cells, have demonstrated that cell-cell adhesion by the cadherin:catenin complex modulates apoptosis, migration and proliferation. In contrast, until recently the involvement of this complex in the regulation of VSMC behaviour was relatively unstudied. In this review, evidence for the regulation of VSMC apoptosis, migration and proliferation by the cadherin:catenin complex will be discussed.

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