Biomedicine

How endothelial cells change identity

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Science  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 881-882
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6378.881-d

The development of healthy heart valves during mammalian embryogenesis requires that endothelial cells morph into a distinct cell type. When this identity change, called endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndoMT), occurs inappropriately in adults, it can lead to disorders such as atherosclerosis, organ fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension. To investigate the mechanisms regulating EndoMT, Xiong et al. studied cultured endothelial cells and mice deficient in a certain metabolic enzyme. They discovered that loss of endothelial fatty acid oxidation promotes EndoMT, most likely through changes in intracellular acetyl coenzyme A levels. These results suggest that therapies aimed at increasing fatty acid oxidation, including several drugs that already exist for other purposes, could potentially be used to treat disorders caused by aberrant EndoMT.

Mol. Cell 69, 689 (2018).

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