Myofibroblasts contribute to the healing of infarcted areas after myocardial infarction through proliferation, migration, and production of extracellular matrix (ECM). Expression of endostatin, a cleaved fragment of type XVIII collagen, increases in the heart tissue of an experimental myocardial infarction model. In the present study, we examined the effect of endostatin on the function of myofibroblasts derived from an infarcted area. The myocardial infarction model was created by ligating the left anterior descending artery in rats. Two weeks after the operation, α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)-positive myofibroblasts were isolated from the infarcted area. Endostatin significantly increased the proliferation and migration of myofibroblasts in vitro. On the other hand, endostatin had no effect on the production of type I collagen, a major ECM protein produced by myofibroblasts. Endostatin activated Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and the pharmacological inhibition of these signaling pathways suppressed the endostatin-induced proliferation and migration. A knockdown of the COL18A1
gene in the myocardial infarction model rats using small interference RNA (siRNA) worsened the cardiac function concomitant with wall thinning and decreased the α-SMA-positive myofibroblasts and scar formation compared with that of control siRNA-injected rats. In summary, we demonstrated for the first time that endostatin might be an important factor in the healing process after myocardial infarction through the activation of myofibroblasts.
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