Osteopontin Promotes Vascular Cell Adhesion and Spreading and Is Chemotactic for Smooth Muscle Cells In Vitro

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Osteopontin is an Arg-Gly-Asp–containing acidic phosphoprotein recently shown to be upregulated in vascular smooth muscle during rat arterial neointima formation and in human atherosclerotic plaques. Functional studies showed that osteopontin promoted adhesion of both cultured aortic endothelial cells and aortic smooth muscle cells. Adhesion of vascular cells to osteopontin was dose dependent and half maximal when solutions containing 7 and 30 nmol/L osteopontin were used to coat wells for endothelial and smooth muscle cells, respectively. Smooth muscle cells adherent to osteopontin were spread after 60 minutes, whereas endothelial cells remained round, although flattened, at this time point but were spread at 90 minutes. Cell spreading on osteopontin was accompanied by the formation of focal adhesion plaques. A newly developed anti-osteopontin antibody completely inhibited adhesion of both cell types to osteopontin but not to fibronectin or vitronectin. In addition, the peptide GRGDSP blocked adhesion to osteopontin, suggesting that integrins mediate Arg-Gly-Asp–dependent adhesion. Indeed, an antibody against the αvβ3 integrin neutralized adhesion of both endothelium and smooth muscle cells to osteopontin by ≈ 50%, demonstrating that αvβ3 is one osteopontin receptor on vascular cells. Osteopontin also promoted the migration of smooth muscle cells in a Boyden-type chamber, with half-maximal effects observed at 77 nmol/L osteopontin. Checkerboard analysis demonstrated that this stimulus was chemotactic in nature. Our findings suggest that osteopontin may be functionally important as an adhesive and chemotactic molecule for vascular cells, particularly when levels of osteopontin are dramatically increased, as is the case after arterial angioplasty and in atherosclerotic plaques.

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