Purpose: Radiation-induced cardiovascular disease is a potentially severe side-effect of thoracic radiotherapy treatment. Clinically, this delayed side-effect presents as a form of accelerated atherosclerosis several years after irradiation. As general endothelial dysfunction is known to be an initiating event in radiation-induced vascular damage, we examined the effects of radiation on endothelial cells in radiation-induced atherosclerosis. Materials and methods: The effects of radiation on human aortic endothelial cells (HAoEC) were assessed by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence assays. Radiation-induced phenotypic changes of endothelial cells (ECs) were examined using atherosclerotic tissues of irradiated apoprotein E null (ApoE -/-) mice. Results: Radiation induced the HAoEC to undergo phenotypic conversion to form fibroblast-like cells, called the endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT), which leads to the upregulation of mesenchymal cell markers such as alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), fibroblast specific protein-1 (FSP-1), and vimentin, and downregulation of endothelial cell-specific markers such as CD31 and vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin. Furthermore, compared with low-density lipoprotein (LDL), oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL) significantly augmented radiation-induced EndMT in HAoEC. These fibrotic phenotypes of ECs were found in atherosclerotic tissues of irradiated ApoE -/- mice with increased levels of ox-LDL. Conclusions: Taken together, these observations suggest that ox-LDL accelerates radiation-induced EndMT and subsequently contributes to radiation-induced atherosclerosis, providing a novel target for the prevention of radiation-induced atherosclerosis.
- Endothelial- to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT)
- Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging