TNF-α-mediated apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells requires p73

Vincent Tang, Amy Dhirapong, Annoel P. Yabes, Robert H Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis, now considered an inflammatory process, is the leading cause of death in the Western world and is manifested by a variety of diseases in multiple organ systems. Because of its prevalence and associated morbidity, novel therapies directed at arresting this progressive process, are urgently needed. The inflammatory mediator TNF-α, which is known to contribute to apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells, has been shown to be intimately involved in the atherosclerotic process, being present at elevated levels in human atheroma as well as possibly being responsible for plaque rupture, a clinically devastating event. In light of our earlier finding that p73 is a proapoptotic protein in vascular smooth muscle cells, which are involved in plaque progression as well as rupture, we asked whether TNF-α mediates apoptosis in these cells through p73. We now show that p73 is present in spindle-shaped cells within human atheroma, and p73β, an isoform that is pivotal in both apoptosis and growth suppression, is induced in vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro by serum but not by PDGF-BB. In addition, TNF-α, when added to these cells in the presence of serum-containing media, increases p73β expression and causes apoptosis in both rat and human vascular smooth muscle cells. Inhibition of p73 activity with a dominant inhibitory NH 2-terminally deleted p73 plasmid results in markedly decreased TNF-α-induced apoptosis. Thus p73β is likely a mediator of the apoptotic effect of TNF-α in the vasculature, such that future targeting of the p73 isoforms may ultimately prove useful in novel atherosclerosis therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1 58-1
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Inflammation
  • Plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'TNF-α-mediated apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells requires p73'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this