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Eur J Med Res. 2007 Mar 26;12(3):129-33.

Endothelin-1 induces functionally active CD40 protein via nuclear factor-kappaB in human vascular smooth muscle cells.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


A plethora of evidence supports a link between inflammation and atherogenesis. The vasoactive peptide endothelin-1 (ET-1) has both proatherogenic and proinflammatory properties. The CD40-CD154 signaling pathway exhibits a direct influence on atherogenesis. We therefore tested the hypothesis that ET-1 induces CD40 in human vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC). ET-1 concentration-dependently stimulated CD40 protein in SMC. The specific ET-A-receptor antagonist BQ-123 prevented CD40 induction demonstrating receptor specificity of the ET-1 effect. Experiments with PI-1, an inhibitor of the IkappaB-a-degrading proteasome complex, demonstrated involvement of the transcription factor NF-kappaB in ET-1-induced CD40 expression. Specific decoy oligodeoxynucleotides with the consensus binding sequence for NF-kappaB and AP-1 supported a NF-kappaB-dependent and AP-1-independent induction pathway. Functional relevance of ET-1-induced CD40 expression was demonstrated by an increase in IL-6 secretion after stimulation with CD154 of cells preactivated with ET-1. The data show a link between a proatherogenic vasoactive peptide and cell-cell contact mediated inflammatory pathways and may implicate novel therapeutic options for vascular disease.

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