Sustained Akt/PKB activation and transient attenuation of c-jun N-terminal kinase in the inhibition of apoptosis by IGF-1 in vascular smooth muscle cells.Apoptosis. 2005 May; 10(3):525-35.A
Characteristics of hVSMC apoptosis and its inhibition by insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) remain unclear. Also unclear is whether a balance in hVSMCs exists whereby c-Jun N-terminal stress kinases (JNK) promote apoptosis while extracellular signal-regulated (ERK1/2) MAP kinases inhibit cell death. In this study, we examined the involvement of Akt/PKB and its upstream kinase, PDK1 and whether JNK activation correlated with human and rat VSMC apoptosis induced by staurosporine and by c-myc, respectively. We observed a strong, sustained JNK activation (and c-Jun phosphorylation), which correlated with VSMC apoptosis. IGF-1 (13.3 nM), during apoptosis inhibition, transiently inhibited JNK activity at 1 h in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)- and MEK-ERK-dependent manner, as wortmannin (100 nM) or PD98059 (30 muM) partially attenuated the IGF-1 effect. PKC down-regulation had no effect on JNK inhibition by IGF-1. While IGF-1 alone produced a strong phosphorylation of Akt/PKB in hVSMCs up to 6 h, it was notably stronger and more sustained during ratmyc and hVSMCs apoptosis inhibition. Further, whereas transient expression of phosphorylated Akt protected VSMCs from apoptosis by nearly 50%, expression of dominant interfering alleles of Akt or PDK1 strongly inhibited IGF-1-mediated VSMC survival. These results demonstrate for the first time that transient inhibition of a pro-apoptotic stimulus in VSMCs may be sufficient to inhibit a programmed cell death and that sustained anti-apoptotic signals (Akt) elicited by IGF-1 are augmented during a death stimulus. Furthermore, PI3-K and ERK-MAPK pathways may cooperate to protect VSMCs from cell death.