Activin A induces a non-fibrotic phenotype in smooth muscle cells in contrast to TGF-β

Bianca C. W. Groenendijk, Germaine F. J. D. Benus, Anita Klous, Yolanda M. Pacheco, Oscar L. Volger, Joost O. Fledderus, Valerie Ferreira, Marten A. Engelse, Hans Pannekoek, Peter ten Dijke, Anton J. G. Horrevoets, Carlie J. M. de Vries

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10 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: Activin A and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) belong to the same family of growth and differentiation factors that modulate vascular lesion formation in distinct ways, which we wish to understand mechanistically. METHODS AND RESULTS: We investigated the expression of cell-surface receptors and activation of Smads in human vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and demonstrated that activin receptor-like kinase-1 (ALK-1), ALK-4, ALK-5 and endoglin are expressed in human SMCs. As expected, TGF-β1 activates Smad1 and Smad2 in these cells. Interestingly, activin A also induces phosphorylation of both Smads, which has not been reported for Smad1 before. Transcriptome analyses of activin A and TGF-β1 treated SMCs with subsequent Gene-Set Enrichment Analyses revealed that many downstream gene networks are induced by both factors. However, the effect of activin A on expression kinetics of individual genes is less pronounced than for TGF-β1, which is explained by a more rapid dephosphorylation of Smads and p38-MAPK in response to activin A. Substantial differences in expression of fibronectin, alpha-V integrin and total extracellular collagen synthesis were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Genome-wide mRNA expression analyses clarify the distinct modulation of vascular lesion formation by activin A and TGF-β1, most significantly because activin A is non-fibrotic
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-142
JournalExperimental cell research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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