Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry



DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

April 2016


Background/Aims: Recent studies have indicated that CD38 gene deficiency results in dedifferentiation or transdifferentiation of arterial smooth muscle cells upon atherogenic stimulations. However, the molecular mechanisms mediating this vascular smooth muscle (SMC) phenotypic switching remain unknown. Methods & Results: In the present study, we first characterized the phenotypic change in the primary cultures of coronary arterial myocytes (CAMs) from CD38-/- mice. It was shown that CD38 deficiency decreased the expression of contractile marker calponin, SM22α and α-SMA but increased the expression of SMC dedifferentiation marker, vimentin, which was accompanied by enhanced cell proliferation. This phenotypic change in CD38-/- CAMs was enhanced by 7-ketocholesterol (7-Ket), an atherogenic stimulus. We further found that the CD38 deficiency decreased the expression and activity of nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor sensitive to redox regulation. Similar to CD38 deletion, Nrf2 gene silencing increased CAM dedifferentiation upon 7-Ket stimulation. In contrast, the overexpression of Nrf2 gene abolished 7-Ket-induced dedifferentiation in CD38-/-CAMs. Given the sensitivity of Nrf2 to oxidative stress, we determined the role of redox signaling in the regulation of Nrf2 expression and activity associated with CD38 effect in CAM phenotype changes. It was demonstrated that in CD38-/- CAMs, 7-Ket failed to stimulate the production of O2-., while in CD38+/+ CAMs 7-Ket induced marked O2-.production and enhancement of Nrf2 activity, which was substantially attenuated by NOX4 gene silencing. Finally, we demonstrated that 7-Ket-induced and NOX4-dependent O2-. production was inhibited by 8-Br-cADPR, an antagonist of cADPR or NED-19, an antagonist of NAADP as product of CD38 ADP-ribosylcyclase, which significantly inhibited the level of cytosolic Ca2+ and the activation of Nrf2 under 7-Ket. Conclusion: Taken together, these results suggest that CD38 activity is required for 7-Ket-induced Ca2+ and consequently O2-. production in CAMs, which increases Nrf2 activity to maintain their differentiated status. When CD38 gene expression and function are deficient, the Nrf2 activity is suppressed, thereby leading to phenotypic switching of CAMs.


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VCU Pharmacology and Toxicology Publications