Clinical disorders associated with increased serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] levels, such as carcinoid syndrome, and the use of serotonin agonists, such as fenfluoramine have been associated with a valvulopathy characterized by hyperplastic valvular and endocardial lesions with increased extracellular matrix. Furthermore, 5-HT has been demonstrated to up-regulate transforming growth factor (TGF)-β in mesangial cells via G-protein signal transduction. We investigated the hypothesis that increased exposure of heart valve interstitial cells to 5-HT may result in increased TGF-β1 expression and activity because of serotonin receptor-mediated signal transduction with activation of Gαq, and subsequently up-regulation of phospholipase C. Thus, in the present study we performed a clinical-pathological investigation of retrieved carcinoid and normal valve cusps using immunohistochemical techniques to detect the presence of TGF-β1 and other proteins associated with TGF-β expression, including TGF-β receptors I and II, latent TGF-β-associated peptide (LAP), and α-smooth muscle actin. Carcinoid valve cusps demonstrated the unusual finding of widespread smooth muscle actin involving the interstitial cells in the periphery of carcinoid nodules; these same cells were also positive for LAP. Normal valve cusps were only focally positive for smooth muscle actin and LAP. In sheep aortic valve interstitial cell cultures 5-HT induced TGF-β1 mRNA production and increased TGF-β1 activity. 5-HT also increased collagen biosynthesis at the dosages studied. Furthermore, TGF-β1 added to SAVIC cultures increased the production of sulfated glycan and hyaluronic acid. In addition, overexpression of Gαq using an adenoviral expression vector for a constitutively active Gαq mutant (Q209L-Gαq) resulted in increased phospholipase C activity as well as up-regulation of TGF-β expression and activity. These results strongly support the view that G-protein-related signal transduction is involved in 5-HT up-regulation of TGF-β1. In conclusion, 5-HT-associated valve disease may be, in part, because of TGF-β1 mechanisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine