TGF-beta 1/ALK5-induced monocyte migration involves PI3K and p38 pathways and is not negatively affected by diabetes mellitus

Serve Olieslagers, Evangelia Pardali, Vadim Tchaikovski, Peter ten Dijke, Johannes Waltenberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims Monocytes contribute to arteriogenesis by infiltration to sites of collateral growth and subsequent production and release of growth factors. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) mediates monocyte motility and stimulates arteriogenesis. TGF-beta 1 signalling mechanisms mediating monocyte motility are unknown so far. Moreover, the influence of cardiovascular risk factor diabetes on TGF-beta 1-induced monocyte migration remains to be elucidated. Methods and results Stimulation of primary human monocytes with TGF-beta 1 endorsed phosphorylation of v-Akt murine thymoma viral oncogene analogues protein (AKT), p38, and extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), besides the activation of the SMA/MAD homologues protein (SMAD) pathway. Inhibition of the TGF-btype 1 receptor, alias activin receptor-like kinase 5 (ALK5), hindered monocyte chemotaxis towards TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 1-activated downstream signalling cascades. Individual genetic knock-downs for receptor-regulated SMAD2 and SMAD3 did not affect monocyte migration to TGF-beta 1. Inhibition of phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K) activity, but not AKT, diminished both basal and TGF-beta 1-mediated monocyte motility. TGF-beta 1-induced monocyte chemotaxis did not rely on ERK1/2, but rather on p38. Remarkably, TGF-beta 1 was able to stimulate chemotaxis of diabetic monocytes. Conclusion The current study provides novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of TGF-beta 1-induced monocyte migration, requiring ALK5 kinase activity and signalling via PI3K and p38. TGF-beta 1-driven monocyte motogenicity is fully functional in diabetic conditions, which is in sharp contrast to the impaired chemotactic responses to certain other arteriogenic cytokines. Therefore, TGF-beta 1 may be a promising candidate for endogenously and exogenously stimulating collateral growth in diabetic patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-518
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • Monocytes
  • Signal transduction
  • Transforming growth factor beta 1
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Collateral circulation


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