Down-regulation of Fibulin-5 is associated with aortic dilation: role of inflammation and epigenetics

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Destructive remodelling of extracellular matrix (ECM) and inflammation lead to dilation and ultimately abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Fibulin-5 (FBLN5) mediates cell–ECM interactions and elastic fibre assembly and is critical for ECM remodelling. We aimed to characterize FBLN5 regulation in human AAA and analyse the underlying mechanisms.

Methods and results

FBLN5 expression was significantly decreased in human aneurysmatic aortas compared with healthy vessels. Local FBLN5 knockdown promoted aortic dilation and enhanced vascular expression of inflammatory markers in Ang II-infused C57BL/6J mice. Inflammatory stimuli down-regulated FBLN5 expression and transcriptional activity in human aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). Further, aortic FBLN5 expression was reduced in LPS-challenged mice. A SOX response element was critical for FBLN5 promoter activity. The SOX9 expression pattern in human AAA parallels that of FBLN5, and like FBLN5, it was reduced in TNFα-stimulated VSMC. Interestingly, SOX9 over-expression prevented the cytokine-mediated reduction of FBLN5 expression and transcription. The inhibition of Class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) by MS-275 or gene silencing attenuated the inflammation-mediated decrease of FBLN5 expression in VSMC and in the vascular wall. Consistently, HDAC inhibition counteracted the reduction of SOX9 expression induced by inflammatory stimuli and prevented the TNFα-mediated decrease in the binding of SOX9 to FBLN5 promoter normalizing FBLN5 expression.


We evidence the deregulation of FBLN5 in human AAA and identify a SOX9/HDAC-dependent mechanism involved in the down-regulation of FBLN5 by inflammation. HDAC inhibitors or pharmacological approaches that aimed to preserve FBLN5 could be useful to prevent the disorganization of ECM induced by inflammation in AAA.

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