Abnormal proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) plays a central role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. β-Sitosterol, an important phytosterol found in plant food, is known to exert antiatherosclerosis activity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying β-sitosterol- induced antiproliferation of VSMCs were still not clear. This study demonstrated that β-sitosterol (1-20 μM) concentration-dependently inhibited proliferation of rat aortic smooth muscle cells (RASMCs) without cytotoxic effect. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that β-sitosterol arrested cell cycle progression through down-regulation of cyclin E and cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)2 and up-regulation of p21cip1. In the β-sitosterol-treated RASMCs, the formation of the CDK2-p21cip1 complex was increased and the assayable CDK2 activity was decreased. Knockdown of the expression of p21cip1 gene prevented β-sitosterol-induced cell cycle arrest in RASMCs. In conclusion, β-sitosterol inhibited VSMC proliferation by increasing the levels of p21cip1 protein, which in turn inhibited the CDK2 activity, and finally interrupted the progress of the cell cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)