Alterations in phenotype and gene expression of adult human aneurysmal smooth muscle cells by exogenous nitric oxide

Kurt Farrell, Phillip Simmers, Gautam Mahajan, Ludovic Boytard, Andrew Camardo, Jyotsna Joshi, Anand Ramamurthi, Florence Pinet, Chandrasekhar R. Kothapalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111589
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Cell modulus
  • Elastin
  • LILAS study
  • Matrix metalloproteinases
  • Matrix proteins
  • Nitric oxide


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