Neointima formation is a major contributor to arteriovenous fistula (AVF)failure. We have previously shown that activation of the Notch signaling pathway contributes to neointima formation by promoting the migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs)into the venous anastomosis. In the current study we investigated the mechanisms underlying the dedifferentiation and migration of VSMCs, and in particular the role of bone marrow-derived fibroblast specific protein 1 (FSP-1)+ cells, another cell type found in models of vascular injury. Using VSMC-specific reporter mice, we found that most of the VSMCs participating in AVF neointima formation originated from dedifferentiated VSMCs. We also observed infiltration of bone marrow-derived FSP-1+ cells into the arterial anastomosis where they could interact with VSMCs. In vitro, conditioned media from FSP-1+ cells stimulated VSMC proliferation and phenotype switching. Activated Notch signaling transformed FSP-1+ cells into type I macrophages and stimulated secretion of cytokines and growth factors. Pretreatment with a Notch inhibitor or knockout of the canonical downstream factor RBP-Jκ in bone marrow–derived FSP1+ cells decreased FSP1+ cell infiltration into murine AVFs, attenuating VSMC dedifferentiation and neointima formation. Our results suggest that targeting Notch signaling could provide a new therapeutic strategy to improve AVF patency.
- Notch signaling
- arteriovenous fistula
- fibroblast specific protein 1
- vascular smooth muscle cell