We examined the effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3(1,25-(OH)2D3) on the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells. Receptors for 1,25-(OH)2D3 were demonstrated in fresh rabbit aortic tissue and in cultured rat VSM using binding of [3H]-1,25-(OH)2D3 in sucrose density gradients of the tissue or cell homogenates. The receptor sedimented at 3.6 S, the sedimentation velocity of 1,25-(OH)2D3 receptors from other sources. 1,25-(OH)2D3 dramatically altered the growth of VSM, but this effect depended importantly on the basal conditions in which the cells were grown. In quiescent VSM deprived of serum for 72 h, 1,25-(OH)2D3 (0.1-10 nM), but not 25-(OH)D3 (up to 100 nM) increased thymidine incorporation up to 12-fold and cell number up to 2.6-fold compared with controls. The maximal effect of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on thymidine incorporation was similar to the maximal effect of the growth factors alpha-thrombin or PDGF. Furthermore, the effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3 and thrombin on thymidine incorporation in quiescent cells were markedly synergistic, yielding a 78-fold increase in thymidine incorporation when both agents were added simultaneously. In "nonquiescent cells" which were exposed to serum-free medium for only 24 h, 1,25-(OH)2D3 (10 nM) also increased DNA synthesis 10-fold compared with controls. However, in striking contrast to what was observed in quiescent cells, 1,25-(OH)2D3 diminished the mitogenic response to thrombin by as much as 50% in nonquiescent cells. 1,25-(OH)2D3 also modulated the transcription of c-myc in response to thrombin. In quiescent cells, transcription was enhanced by 1,25-(OH)2D3, whereas in nonquiescent cells, thrombin-induced c-myc transcription was blunted. Thus, 1,25-(OH)2D3 is a potent modulator of the growth of cultured VSM. The direction of this modulation depends strongly on the conditions under which the cells are cultured.
T Mitsuhashi, R C Morris Jr, H E Ives