Background - Pathological processes underlying myxomatous mitral valve degeneration (MMVD) remain poorly understood. We sought to identify novel mechanisms contributing to the development of this condition. Methods and Results - Microarrays were used to measure gene expression in 11 myxomatous and 11 nonmyxomatous human mitral valves. Differential gene expression (thresholds P<0.05; fold-change >1.5) and pathway activation (Ingenuity) were confirmed using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Contributions of bone morphogenetic protein 4 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β2 to differential gene expression were evaluated in vitro. Contributions of angiotensin II to differential pathway activation were examined in mice in vivo. A total of 2602 genes were differentially expressed between myxomatous and nonmyxomatous valves. Canonical TGF-β signaling was increased in MMVD because of increased ligand expression and derepression of SMA mothers against decapentaplegic 2/3 signaling and was confirmed with quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Myxomatous valves demonstrated activation of canonical bone morphogenetic protein and Wnt/β-catenin signaling and upregulation of their common target runt-related transcription factor 2. Our data set provided transcriptional and immunohistochemical evidence for activated immune cell infiltration. In vitro treatment of mitral valve interstitial cells with TGF-β2 increased β-catenin signaling at mRNA and protein levels, suggesting interactions between TGF-β2 and Wnt signaling. In vivo infusion of mice with angiotensin II recaptured several changes in signaling pathways characteristic of human MMVD. Conclusions - These data support a new disease framework whereby activation of TGF-β2, bone morphogenetic protein 4, Wnt/β-catenin, or immune signaling plays major roles in the pathogenesis of MMVD. We propose these pathways act in a context-dependent manner to drive phenotypic changes that fundamentally differ from those observed in aortic valve disease and open novel avenues guiding future research into the pathogenesis of MMVD.
- general surgery
- mitral valve
- molecular biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine