Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Experimental Cell Research


Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are characterized by matrix remodeling, elastin degradation, absence of nitric oxide (NO) signaling, and inflammation, influencing smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotype and gene expression. Little is known about the biomolecular release and intrinsic biomechanics of human AAA-SMCs. NO delivery could be an attractive therapeutic strategy to restore lost functionality of AAA-SMCs by inhibiting inflammation and cell stiffening. We aim to establish the differences in phenotype and gene expression of adult human AAA-SMCs from healthy SMCs. Based on our previous study which showed benefits of optimal NO dosage delivered via S-Nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) to healthy aortic SMCs, we tested whether such benefits would occur in AAA-SMCs. The mRNA expression of three genes involved in matrix degradation (ACE, ADAMTS5 and ADAMTS8) was significantly downregulated in AAA-SMCs. Total protein and glycosaminoglycans synthesis were higher in AAA-SMCs than healthy-SMCs (p < 0.05 for AAA-vs. healthy- SMC cultures) and was enhanced by GSNO and 3D cultures (p < 0.05 for 3D vs. 2D cultures; p < 0.05 for GSNO vs. non-GSNO cases). Elastin gene expression, synthesis and deposition, desmosine crosslinker levels, and lysyl oxidase (LOX) functional activity were lower, while cell proliferation, iNOS, LOX and fibrillin-1 gene expressions were higher in AAA-SMCs (p < 0.05 between respective cases), with differential benefits from GSNO exposure. GSNO and 3D cultures reduced MMPs −2, −9, and increased TIMP-1 release in AAA-SMC cultures (p < 0.05 for GSNO vs. non-GSNO cultures). AAA-SMCs were inherently stiffer and had smoother surface than healthy SMCs (p < 0.01 in both cases), but GSNO reduced stiffness (~25%; p < 0.01) and increased roughness (p < 0.05) of both cell types. In conclusion, exogenously-delivered NO offers an attractive strategy by providing therapeutic benefits to AAA-SMCs.


This work was partially supported by the Cleveland State University Cellular and Molecular Medicine Fellowships and the Dissertation Research Awards to J.J. and K.F., the Choose Ohio First Scholarship to P.S., the National Science Foundation (CBET, Award # 1337859) to C.K., the National Institutes of Health (R01ES025779) to C.K., the European Fighting Aneurysmal disease grant (Health-F2-2008–200647) to F.P., and the National Institutes of Health (HL132856 and HL119810-05; Project Number: NCAI-17-7-APP-CCF-Ramamurthi) to A.R.