Medium from cocultures of human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) and smooth muscle cells (HASMC) taken from the same donor contained approximately two- to fourfold more macrophage colony-stimulating factor, granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and up to 5.1-fold more transforming growth factor beta than could be accounted for by the sum of the activities of media from equivalent numbers of HAEC and HASMC cultured separately. After pulse labeling, immunoprecipitated [35S]fibronectin and [14C]collagen were also found to be substantially increased in the coculture compared to the sum of HAEC and HASMC cultured separately. The cocultivation of HAEC and HASMC resulted in a 2.7-fold increase in connexin43 messenger RNA. When direct physical contact between HAEC and HASMC was prevented by a membrane that was permeable to medium, the levels of [35S]fibronectin and [14C]collagen in the coculture were significantly reduced. Monocytes cultured alone contained low levels of [35S]fibronectin and [14C]collagen but when added to the coculture there was up to a 22-fold increase in [35S]fibronectin and a 1.9-fold increase in [14C]collagen compared to the coculture alone. The increase in fibronectin was prevented in the presence of neutralizing antibody to interleukin 1 and antibody to interleukin 6 by 45% and 67%, respectively. Addition of monocytes to cocultures also induced the levels of mRNA for connexin43 by 2.8-fold. We conclude that the interaction of HAEC, HASMC, and monocytes in coculture can result in marked increases in the levels of several biologically important molecules and that increased gap junction formation between the cells and interleukins 1 and 6 may be partially responsible for these changes.
M Navab, F Liao, G P Hough, L A Ross, B J Van Lenten, T B Rajavashisth, A J Lusis, H Laks, D C Drinkwater, A M Fogelman