J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 200-213; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030200 - published 24 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mutations in the actin-binding gene Filamin-A have been linked to non-syndromic myxomatous valvular dystrophy and associated mitral valve prolapse. Previous studies by our group traced the adult valve defects back to developmental errors in valve interstitial cell-mediated extracellular matrix remodeling during fetal valve gestation. Mice deficient in Filamin-A exhibit enlarged mitral leaflets at E17.5, and subsequent progression to a myxomatous phenotype is observed by two months. For this study, we sought to define mechanisms that contribute to myxomatous degeneration in the adult Filamin-A-deficient mouse. In vivo experiments demonstrate increased infiltration of hematopoietic-derived cells and macrophages in adolescent Filamin-A conditional knockout mice. Concurrent with this infiltration of hematopoietic cells, we show an increase in Erk activity, which localizes to regions of MMP2 expression. Additionally, increases in cell proliferation are observed at two months, when hematopoietic cell engraftment and signaling are pronounced. Similar changes are observed in human myxomatous mitral valve tissue, suggesting that infiltration of hematopoietic-derived cells and/or increased Erk signaling may contribute to myxomatous valvular dystrophy. Consequently, immune cell targeting and/or suppression of pErk activities may represent an effective therapeutic option for mitral valve prolapse patients.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 190-199; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030190 - published 10 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Turner syndrome (TS), most frequently caused by X-monosomy (45,X), is characterized in part by cardiovascular abnormalities, including aortopathy and bicuspid aortic valve (BAV). There is a need for animal models that recapitulate the cardiovascular manifestations of TS. Extracellular matrix (ECM) organization and morphometrics of the aortic valve and proximal aorta were examined in adult 39,XO mice (where the parental origin of the single X was paternal (39,XPO) or maternal (39,XMO)) and 40,XX controls. Aortic valve morphology was normal (tricuspid) in all of the 39,XPO and 40,XX mice studied, but abnormal (bicuspid or quadricuspid) in 15% of 39,XMO mice. Smooth muscle cell orientation in the ascending aorta was abnormal in all 39,XPO and 39,XMO mice examined, but smooth muscle actin was decreased in 39,XMO mice only. Aortic dilation was present with reduced penetrance in 39,XO mice. The 39,XO mouse demonstrates aortopathy and an X-linked parent-of-origin effect on aortic valve malformation, and the candidate gene FAM9B is polymorphically expressed in control and diseased human aortic valves. The 39,XO mouse model may be valuable for examining the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular findings in TS, and suggest there are important genetic modifiers on the X chromosome that modulate risk for nonsyndromic BAV and aortopathy.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 176-189; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030176 - published 10 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Non-syndromic mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common degenerative valvulopathy, predisposing to arrhythmia and sudden death. The etiology of MVP is suspected to be under genetic control, as supported by familial cases and its manifestation in genetic syndrome (e.g., Marfan syndrome). One candidate etiological mechanism is a perturbation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling of the valve. To test this hypothesis, we assessed the role of genetic variants in the matrix metalloproteinase 2 gene (MMP2) known to regulate the ECM turnover by direct degradation of proteins and for which transgenic mice develop MVP. Direct sequencing of exons of MMP2 in 47 unrelated patients and segregation analyses in families did not reveal any causative mutation. We studied eight common single nucleotide polymorphisms (TagSNPs), which summarize the genetic information at the MMP2 locus. The association study in two case controls sets (NCases = 1073 and NControls = 1635) provided suggestive evidence for the association of rs1556888 located downstream MMP2 with the risk of MVP, especially in patients with the fibroelastic defiency form. Our study does not support the contribution of MMP2 rare variation in the etiology to MVP in humans, though further genetic and molecular investigation is required to confirm our current suggestive association of one common variant.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 165-175; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030165 - published 10 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is the most common mitral valve disorder affecting 2%–3% of the general population. Two histological forms for the disease exist: Myxomatous degeneration and fibroelastic disease. Pathological evidence suggests the disease is not confined solely to the valve tissue, and accumulation of proteoglycans and fibrotic tissue can be seen in the adjacent myocardium of MVP patients. MVP is diagnosed by demonstrating valve tissue passing the annular line into the left atrium during systole. In this review we will discuss the advantages and limitations of various imaging modalities in their MVP diagnosis ability as well as the potential for demonstrating extra associated valvular pathologies.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(3), 141-164; doi:10.3390/jcdd2030141 - published 25 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Calcium phosphate (CaP) crystals are formed in pathological calcification as well as during stone formation. Although there are several theories as to how these crystals can develop through the combined interactions of biochemical and biophysical factors, the exact mechanism of such mineralization is largely unknown. Based on the published scientific literature, we found that common factors can link the initial stages of stone formation and calcification in anatomically distal tissues and organs. For example, changes to the spatiotemporal conditions of the fluid flow in tubular structures may provide initial condition(s) for CaP crystal generation needed for stone formation. Additionally, recent evidence has provided a meaningful association between the active participation of proteins and transcription factors found in the bone forming (ossification) mechanism that are also involved in the early stages of kidney stone formation and arterial calcification. Our review will focus on three topics of discussion (physiological influences—calcium and phosphate concentration—and similarities to ossification, or bone formation) that may elucidate some commonality in the mechanisms of stone formation and calcification, and pave the way towards opening new avenues for further research.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis.2015, 2(2), 125-140; doi:10.3390/jcdd2020125 - published 2 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There is an urgent quest for improved heart health. Here, we review how neutron radiation can provide insight into the molecular basis of heart health. Lower cholesterol, a daily intake of aspirin and supplemental vitamin E are argued to all improve heart health. However, the mechanisms behind these common regimens, and others, are not entirely understood. It is not clear why a daily intake of aspirin can help some people with heart disease, and the benefits of vitamin E in the treatment of reperfusion injury have been heavily debated. The molecular impact of cholesterol in the body is still a hot topic. Neutron scattering experiments present a unique opportunity for biophysicists attempting to address these problems. We review some recently published studies that are advancing our understanding of how cholesterol, vitamin E and aspirin work at the molecular level, by studying the impact of these molecules on the cell membrane. These insights engage the broader health science community with new ways of thinking about these molecules.