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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010 Mar;30(3):395-402. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.191395. Epub 2010 Feb 5.

Mouse aorta smooth muscle cells differentiate into lymphoid tissue organizer-like cells on combined tumor necrosis factor receptor-1/lymphotoxin beta-receptor NF-kappaB signaling.

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  • 1Institute for Vascular Medicine, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Bachstrasse 18, 07743 Jena, Germany.



Mouse aorta smooth muscle cells (SMC) express tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 1A (TNFR-1) and lymphotoxin beta-receptor (LTbetaR). Circumstantial evidence has linked the SMC LTbetaR to tertiary lymphoid organogenesis in hyperlipidemic mice. Here, we explored TNFR-1 and LTbetaR signaling in cultured SMC.


TNFR-1 signaling activated the classical RelA NF-kappaB pathway, whereas LTbetaR signaling activated the classical RelA and alternative RelB NF-kappaB pathways, and both signaling pathways synergized to enhance p100 inhibitor processing to the p52 subunit of NF-kappaB. Microarrays showed that simultaneous TNFR-1/LTbetaR activation resulted in elevated mRNA encoding leukocyte homeostatic chemokines CCL2, CCL5, CXCL1, and CX3CL1. Importantly, SMC acquired features of lymphoid tissue organizers, which control tertiary lymphoid organogenesis in autoimmune diseases through hyperinduction of CCL7, CCL9, CXCL13, CCL19, CXCL16, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1. TNFR-1/LTbetaR cross-talk resulted in augmented secretion of lymphorganogenic chemokine proteins. Supernatants of TNFR-1/LTbetaR-activated SMC markedly supported migration of splenic T cells, B cells, and macrophages/dendritic cells. Experiments with ltbr(-/-) SMC indicated that LTbetaR-RelB activation was obligatory to generate the lymphoid tissue organizer phenotype.


SMC may participate in the formation of tertiary lymphoid tissue in atherosclerosis by upregulation of lymphorganogenic chemokines involved in T-lymphocyte, B-lymphocyte, and macrophage/dendritic cell attraction.

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