PloS one

Smoking and Female Sex: Independent Predictors of Human Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells Stiffening.

PMID 26661469


Recent evidence shows the rigidity of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) contributes to vascular mechanics. Arterial rigidity is an independent cardiovascular risk factor whose associated modifications in VSMC viscoelasticity have never been investigated. This study's objective was to evaluate if the arterial rigidity risk factors aging, African ancestry, female sex, smoking and diabetes mellitus are associated with VMSC stiffening in an experimental model using a human derived vascular smooth muscle primary cell line repository. Eighty patients subjected to coronary artery bypass surgery were enrolled. VSMCs were extracted from internal thoracic artery fragments and mechanically evaluated using Optical Magnetic Twisting Cytometry assay. The obtained mechanical variables were correlated with the clinical variables: age, gender, African ancestry, smoking and diabetes mellitus. The mechanical variables Gr, G'r and G"r had a normal distribution, demonstrating an inter-individual variability of VSMC viscoelasticity, which has never been reported before. Female sex and smoking were independently associated with VSMC stiffening: Gr (apparent cell stiffness) p = 0.022 and p = 0.018, R2 0.164; G'r (elastic modulus) p = 0.019 and p = 0.009, R2 0.184 and G"r (dissipative modulus) p = 0.011 and p = 0.66, R2 0.141. Female sex and smoking are independent predictors of VSMC stiffening. This pro-rigidity effect represents an important element for understanding the vascular rigidity observed in post-menopausal females and smokers, as well as a potential therapeutic target to be explored in the future. There is a significant inter-individual variation of VSMC viscoelasticity, which is slightly modulated by clinical variables and probably relies on molecular factors.