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Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 42  |  Issue: 12  |  Page No.: 908 - 915

Homocysteine enhances cell proliferation in vascular smooth muscle cells: role of p38 MAPK and p47phox

T Zou, W Yang, Z Hou and J. Yang    


Elevation of blood homocysteine levels (hyperhomocysteinemia) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders. One of the mechanisms by which homocysteine induces atherosclerosis is to promote the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent manner. It has been shown that homocysteine induces the production of ROS through the activation of NAD(P)H oxidases in VSMCs. In this study, we investigated the signal transduction pathways involved in the activation of NAD(P)H oxidases. Homocysteine promoted DNA synthesis in VSMCs. Inhibition of ROS by N-acetyl-l-cysteine (an antioxidant) and apocynin (an inhibitor of NAD(P)H oxidases) significantly blocked homocysteine-induced proliferation in VSMCs. Homocysteine induced a rapid increase in the phosphorylation of p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK). p38 MAPK in turn activated NAD(P)H oxidases by inducing the phosphorylation of p47phox, resulting in the generation of ROS. ROS induced the phosphorylation of Akt, which was probably responsible for proliferation in VSMCs. These findings demonstrate that homocysteine induces an increase in the activity of NAD(P)H oxidases in VSMCs by activating p38 MAPK and enhancing the phosphorylation of p47phox.

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