The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery

High-mobility group box-1 protein induces osteogenic phenotype changes in aortic valve interstitial cells.

PMID 26515875


Calcific aortic valve (AV) disease is known to be an inflammation-related process. High-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) protein and Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) have been reported to participate in several inflammatory diseases. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the HMGB1-TLR4 axis is involved in calcific AV disease, and to evaluate the effect of HMGB1, and its potential mechanisms, on the pro-osteogenic phenotype change of valvular interstitial cells (VICs). Expression of HMGB1 and TLR4 in human calcific AVs was evaluated using immunohistochemical staining and immunoblotting. Cultured VICs were used as an in vitro model. The VICs were stimulated with HMGB1 for analysis, with versus without TLR4 small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA), c-Jun N-terminal kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase (JNK MAPK), and nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) inhibitors. Enhanced accumulation of HMGB1 and TLR4 was observed in calcific valves. Moreover, we found that HMGB1 induced high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine production and promoted the osteoblastic differentiation and calcification of VICs. In addition, HMGB1 induced phosphorylation of JNK MAPK and NF-κB. However, these effects were markedly suppressed by siRNA silencing of TLR4. In addition, blockade of JNK MAPK and NF-κB phosphorylation prohibited HMGB1-induced production of pro-osteogenic factors, and mineralization of VICs. The HMGB1 protein may promote osteoblastic differentiation and calcification of VICs, through the TLR4-JNK-NF-κB signaling pathway.