α-smooth muscle actin is not a marker of fibrogenic cell activity in skeletal muscle fibrosis

Wanming Zhao, Xingyu Wang, Kai Hui Sun, Lan Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

α-Smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) is used as a marker for a subset of activated fibrogenic cells, myofibroblasts, which are regarded as important effector cells of tissue fibrogenesis. We address whether α-SMA-expressing myofibroblasts are detectable in fibrotic muscles of mdx5cv mice, a mouse model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and whether the α-SMA expression correlates with the fibrogenic function of intramuscular fibrogenic cells. α-SMA immunostaining signal was not detected in collagen I (GFP)-expressing cells in fibrotic muscles of ColI-GFP/mdx5cv mice, but it was readily detected in smooth muscle cells lining intramuscular blood vessel walls. α-SMA expression was detected by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot in fibrogenic cells sorted from diaphragm and quadriceps muscles of the ColI-GFP/mdx5cv mice. Consistent with the more severe fibrosis in the ColI-GFP/mdx5cv diaphragm, the fibrogenic cells in the diaphragm exerted a stronger fibrogenic function than the fibrogenic cells in the quadriceps as gauged by their extracellular matrix gene expression. However, both gene and protein expression of α-SMA was lower in the diaphragm fibrogenic cells than in the quadriceps fibrogenic cells in the ColI-GFP/mdx5cv mice. We conclude that myofibroblasts are present in fibrotic skeletal muscles, but their expression of α-SMA is not detectable by immunostaining. The level of α-SMA expression by intramuscular fibrogenic cells does not correlate positively with the level of collagen gene expression or the severity of skeletal muscle fibrosis in the mdx5cv mice. α-SMA is not a functional marker of fibrogenic cells in skeletal muscle fibrosis associated with muscular dystrophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0191031
JournalPloS one
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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