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Am J Pathol. 2011 Mar;178(3):1210-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2010.11.054.

Inhibition of transforming growth factor β worsens elastin degradation in a murine model of Kawasaki disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5162, USA.


Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute inflammatory illness marked by coronary arteritis. However, the factors increasing susceptibility to coronary artery lesions are unknown. Because transforming growth factor (TGF) β increases elastin synthesis and suppresses proteolysis, we hypothesized that, in contrast to the benefit observed in aneurysms forming in those with Marfan syndrome, inhibition of TGF-β would worsen inflammatory-induced coronary artery lesions. By using a murine model of KD in which injection of Lactobacillus casei wall extract (LCWE) induces coronary arteritis, we show that LCWE increased TGF-β signaling in the coronary smooth muscle cells beginning at 2 days and continuing through 14 days, the point of peak coronary inflammation. By 42 days, LCWE caused fragmentation of the internal and external elastic lamina. Blocking TGF-β by administration of a neutralizing antibody accentuated the LCWE-mediated fragmentation of elastin and induced an overall loss of medial elastin without increasing the inflammatory response. We attributed these increased pathological characteristics to a reduction in the proteolytic inhibitor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and an associated threefold increase in matrix metalloproteinase 9 activity compared with LCWE alone. Therefore, our data demonstrate that in the coronary arteritis associated with KD, TGF-β suppresses elastin degradation by inhibiting plasmin-mediated matrix metalloproteinase 9 activation. Thus, strategies to block TGF-β, used in those with Marfan syndrome, are unlikely to be beneficial and could be detrimental.

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