Hypoxia Stimulates Osteopontin Expression and Proliferation of Cultured Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Potentiation by High Glucose

  1. Chhinder P. Sodhi,
  2. Sarojini A. Phadke,
  3. Daniel Batlle and
  4. Atul Sahai
  1. Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois


    We examined the effect of hypoxia on proliferation and osteopontin (OPN) expression in cultured rat aortic vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells. In addition, we determined whether hypoxia-induced increases in OPN and cell proliferation are altered under hyperglycemic conditions. Quiescent cultures of VSM cells were exposed to hypoxia (3% O2) or normoxia (18% O2) in a serum-free medium, and cell proliferation as well as the expression of OPN was assessed. Cells exposed to hypoxia for 24 h exhibited a significant increase in [3H]thymidine incorporation followed by a significant increase in cell number at 48 h in comparison with respective normoxic controls. Exposure to hypoxia produced significant increases in OPN protein and mRNA expression at 2 h followed by a gradual decline at 6 and 12 h, with subsequent significant increases at 24 h. Neutralizing antibodies to either OPN or its receptor β3 integrin but not neutralizing antibodies to β5 integrin prevented the hypoxia-induced increase in [3H]thymidine incorporation. Inhibitors of protein kinase C (PKC) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase also reduced the hypoxia-induced stimulation of proliferation and OPN synthesis. Exposure to high-glucose (HG) (25 mmol/l) medium under normoxic conditions also resulted in significant increases in OPN protein and mRNA levels as well as the proliferation of VSM cells. Under hypoxic conditions, HG further stimulated OPN synthesis and cell proliferation in an additive fashion. In conclusion, hypoxia-induced proliferation of cultured VSM cells is mediated by the stimulation of OPN synthesis involving PKC and p38 MAP kinase. In addition, hypoxia also enhances the effect of HG conditions on both OPN and proliferation of cultured VSM cells, which may have important implications in the development of diabetic atherosclerosis associated with arterial wall hypoxia.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Atul Sahai, Division of Nephrology/Hypertension, Searle Bldg. 10-475, Northwestern University Medical School, 303 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail: a-sahai{at}nwu.edu.

      Received for publication 5 September 2000 and accepted in revised form 23 February 2001.

      DMEM, Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium; F12, Ham’s nutrient mixture F12 medium; HG, high-glucose; MAP, mitogen-activated protein; NG, normal glucose; OPN, osteopontin; PKC, protein kinase C; VSM, vascular smooth muscle.

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