Activation of vascular smooth muscle parathyroid hormone receptor inhibits Wnt/β-catenin signaling and aortic fibrosis in diabetic arteriosclerosis

Su Li Cheng, Jian Su Shao, Linda R. Halstead, Kathryn Distelhorst, Oscar Sierra, Dwight A. Towler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Rationale: Vascular fibrosis and calcification contribute to diabetic arteriosclerosis, impairing Windkessel physiology necessary for distal tissue perfusion. Wnt family members, upregulated in arteries by the low-grade inflammation of "diabesity," stimulate type I collagen expression and osteogenic mineralization of mesenchymal progenitors via β-catenin. Conversely, parathyroid hormone (PTH) inhibits aortic calcification in low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-deficient mice fed high fat diabetogenic diets (HFD). Objective: We sought to determine the impact of vascular PTH receptor (PTH1R) activity on arteriosclerotic Wnt/β-catenin signaling in vitro and in vivo. We generated SM-caPTH1R transgenic mice, a model in which the constitutively active PTH1R variant H223R (caPTH1R) is expressed only in the vasculature. Methods and results: The caPTH1R inhibited Wnt/β-catenin signaling, collagen production, and vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and calcification in vitro. Transgenic SM-caPTH1R;LDLR mice fed HFD develop diabesity, with no improvements in fasting serum glucose, cholesterol, weight, body composition, or bone mass versus LDLR siblings. SM-caPTH1R downregulated aortic Col1A1, Runx2, and Nox1 expression without altering TNF, Msx2, Wnt7a/b, or Nox4. The SM-caPTH1R transgene decreased aortic β-catenin protein accumulation and signaling in diabetic LDLR mice. Levels of aortic superoxide (a precursor of peroxide that activates pro-matrix metalloproteinase 9 and osteogenic signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells) were suppressed by the SM-caPTH1R transgene. Aortic calcification, collagen accumulation, and wall thickness were concomitantly reduced, enhancing vessel distensibility. Conclusions: Cell-autonomous vascular smooth muscle cell PTH1R activity inhibits arteriosclerotic Wnt/β-catenin signaling and reduces vascular oxidative stress, thus limiting aortic type I collagen and calcium accrual in diabetic LDLR-deficient mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-282
Number of pages12
JournalCirculation research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 23 2010


  • Wnt
  • arteriosclerosis
  • diabetes
  • parathyroid hormone
  • β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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