Carnosine, a naturally producing dipeptide, exhibits various beneficial effects. However, the possible role of carnosine in vascular disorders associated with pathological conditions, including proliferation and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), largely remains unrevealed. Here, we investigated the regulatory role and mechanism of carnosine in platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-induced VSMCs. Carnosine inhibited the proliferation of PDGF-induced VSMCs without any cytotoxic effects. Carnosine treatment also induced G1-phase cell cycle arrest by causing a p21WAF1-mediated reduction in the expression of both cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and cyclins in PDGF-treated VSMCs. Carnosine treatment suppressed c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation in PDGF-stimulated signaling. Additionally, carnosine significantly prevented the migration of VSMCs exposed to PDGF. Carnosine abolished matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity via reduced transcriptional binding activity of NF-κB, Sp-1, and AP-1 motifs in PDGF-treated VSMCs. Moreover, using aortic assay ex vivo, it was observed that carnosine addition attenuated PDGF-stimulated sprout outgrowth of VSMCs. Taken together, these results demonstrated that carnosine impeded the proliferation and migration of PDGF-stimulated VSMCs by regulating cell cycle machinery, JNK signaling, and transcription factor-mediated MMP-9 activity as well as prevented ex vivo sprout outgrowth of blood vessels. Thus, carnosine may be a potential candidate for preventing vascular proliferative disease.
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