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Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Feb 1;22(3):433-43. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds439. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Antagonism of GxxPG fragments ameliorates manifestations of aortic disease in Marfan syndrome mice.

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Institute for Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin 13353, Germany.


Marfan syndrome (MFS) is an inherited disorder of connective tissue caused by mutations in the gene for fibrillin-1 (FBN1). The complex pathogenesis of MFS involves changes in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) signaling and increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression. Fibrillin-1 and elastin have repeated Gly-x-x- Pro-Gly (GxxPG) motifs that can induce a number of effects including macrophage chemotaxis and increased MMP activity by induction of signaling through the elastin-binding protein (EBP). In this work, we test the hypothesis that antagonism of GxxPG fragments can suppress disease progression in the Marfan aorta. Fibrillin-1 underexpressing mgR/mgR Marfan mice were treated with weekly intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of an antibody directed against GxxPG fragments. The treatment was started at 3 weeks of age and continued for 8 weeks. The treatment significantly reduced MMP-2, MMP-9 and pSmad2 activity, as well as fragmentation and macrophage infiltration in the aorta of the mgR/mgR mice. Additionally, airspace enlargement and increased pSmad2 activity in the lungs of mgR/mgR animals were prevented by the treatment. Our findings demonstrate the important role of secondary cellular events caused by GxxPG-containing fragments and matrix-induced inflammatory activity in the pathogenesis of thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) in mgR/mgR mice. Moreover, the results of the current study suggest that antagonism of the effects of GxxPG fragments may be a fruitful therapeutic strategy in MFS.

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