A sex-related difference in the hypertrophic versus hyperplastic response of vascular smooth muscle cells to repeated passaging in culture

  • Lucie Bacáková
  • C. Pellicciari
  • M. G. Bottone
  • V. Lisá
  • V. Mares
Keywords: rat aortic smooth muscle cells, polyploidization, gender differences, cell proliferation, flow cytometry, alpha-v integrins, vinculin, alphaactin


Activation of growth of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in adults participates in pathogenesis of dysplastic diseases of the vascular system. In this study, we examined the impact of gender of rat donors on the degree of hyperplastic and hypertrophic responses of VSMC in cultures subjected to repeated passaging. The cells were derived from the outgrowth zone of explants of the thoracic aorta and were studied up to passage 45. Under these conditions, the cells undergo repeated growth stimulation by the serum growth factors mimicking some pathological situations in vivo. At lower passages (5-7), the cells from both sex donors did not differ significantly in their doubling time, maximum population density, protein content and ploidy. At higher passages (40-45), we found that the hyperplastic response, monitored by doubling time and BrdU-revealed DNA synthesis, was more intense in VSMC of male origin. In contrast, female-derived cells reacted by more prominent hypertrophic changes. The latter included a relatively higher increase in the volume and protein content of cells. As indicated by the DNA content histograms and chromosome numbers, these cells also showed a higher degree of passage-dependent polyploidization. In addition, the female-derived VSMC were found to be more effective in adhesion to the growth support evidenced by wider spreading and higher resistance of these cells to trypsin-mediated detachment as well as higher expression of some integrin and cytoskeletal molecules. These features could partly account for the slower proliferation and polyploidization of these cells. The results suggest that rat VSMC populations of male and female origin contain cells which are intrinsically different with respect to their capability of reacting to growth stimuli. The lower responsiveness of femalederived cells to growth stimuli may contribute to less frequent formation of hyperplastic vascular lesions in female organisms.