Vascular endothelial growth factor enhances profibrotic activities through modulation of calcium homeostasis in human atrial fibroblasts

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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a pivotal activator of angiogenesis and calcium (Ca2+) signaling in endothelial cells, was shown to increase collagen production in atrial fibroblasts. In this study, we evaluated whether VEGF may regulate Ca2+ homeostasis in atrial fibroblasts and contribute to its profibrogenesis. Migration, and proliferation analyses, patch-clamp assay, Ca2+ fluorescence imaging, and western blotting were performed using VEGF-treated (300 pg/mL or 1000 pg/mL) human atrial fibroblasts with or without coadministration of Ethylene glycol tetra-acetic acid (EGTA, 1 mmol/L), or KN93 (a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II [CaMKII] inhibitor, 10 μmol/L). VEGF (1000 pg/mL) increased migration, myofibroblast differentiation, pro-collagen type I, pro-collagen type III production, and phosphorylated VEGF receptor 1 expression of fibroblasts. VEGF (1000 pg/mL) increased the nonselective cation current (INSC) of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels and potassium current of intermediate-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (KCa3.1) channels thereby upregulating Ca2+ entry. VEGF upregulated phosphorylated ERK expression. An ERK inhibitor (PD98059, 50 μmol/L) attenuated VEGF-activated INSC of TRP channels. The presence of EGTA attenuated the profibrotic effects of VEGF on pro-collagen type I, pro-collagen type III production, myofibroblast differentiation, and migratory capabilities of fibroblasts. VEGF upregulated the expression of phosphorylated CaMKII in fibroblasts, which was attenuated by EGTA. In addition, KN93 reduced VEGF-increased pro-collagen type I, pro-collagen type III production, myofibroblast differentiation, and the migratory capabilities of fibroblasts. In conclusion, we found that VEGF increases atrial fibroblast activity through CaMKII signaling by enhancing Ca2+ entry. Our findings provide benchside evidence leading to a potential novel strategy targeting atrial myopathy and arrhythmofibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-296
Number of pages12
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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