Abstract P098: Inhibitory Role of Notch1 in Calcific Aortic Valve Disease Is Mediated by Sox9
Introduction: Aortic valve calcification is the most common form of valvular heart disease; however the mechanism(s) underlying calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) are unknown. NOTCH1mutations are associated with aortic valve malformations and adult-onset calcification in families with inherited disease. The Notch signaling pathway is critical for multiple cell differentiation processes, but its role in the development of CAVD is not well understood.
Objective: To investigate the molecular changes associated with the calcification of aortic valve that occurs with inhibition of Notch signaling.
Methods and Results: The expression of Notch signaling pathway members was validated in the aortic valve cusps from adult mice, and examination of diseased human aortic valves revealed decreased expression of NOTCH1 in areas of calcium deposition. To identify downstream mediators of Notch1 signaling, we examined gene expression changes that occur with chemical inhibition of Notch signaling in rat aortic valve interstitial cells (AVICs). We found significant downregulation of many cartilage-specific genes that constitute the valve extracellular matrix (ECM). Analysis of these cartilage-specific genes demonstrated that several were transcriptional targets of Sox9, a master regulator of chondrogenesis, which has been previously shown to be essential for proper valve development and maintenance. Utilizing an in vitro porcine aortic valve calcification model system, inhibition of Notch activity resulted in accelerated calcification while stimulation of Notch signaling attenuated the calcific process. Finally, utilizing transfection studies, addition of Sox9 was able to prevent the calcification of porcine AVICs that occurs with Notch inhibition.
Conclusions:Loss of Notch signaling contributes to aortic valve calcification by a Sox9-dependent mechanism. Further elucidation of the Notch1-Sox9 molecular pathway and its role in the maintenance of the ECM will lead to an improved mechanistic understanding of aortic valve calcification and development of novel therapeutic strategies for CAVD.
- © 2011 by American Heart Association, Inc.