GLUT1-induced cFLIP expression promotes proliferation and prevents apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells

Eileen D. Vesely, Charles W. Heilig, Frank C. Brosius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Enhanced expression of the facilitative glucose transporter, GLUT1, has been shown to inhibit apoptosis in several cell systems including vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). A decrease in apoptosis could lead to increased VSMC numbers in neointimal and medial arterial layers under several pathologic conditions. The hypothesis underlying these studies is that GLUT1 induces expression of antiapoptotic and prosurvival genes that increase VSMC survival. Transcriptomic analysis of A7r5 VSMCs, in which GLUT1 was acutely overexpressed, showed a 2.14-fold increase in c-FLICE inhibitory protein (cFLIP), which promotes cellular growth and prevents apoptosis through caspase 8 binding. We confirmed that overexpression of GLUT1 induced mRNA and protein expression of both the long and short isoforms of cFLIP (cFLIPL and cFLIP S) in primary and stable immortalized VSMC lines as well as in aortas from GLUT1 transgenic mice. Increased GLUT1 reduced VSMC death by more than twofold after serum withdrawal, as evidenced by decreased caspase 3 activity and Trypan blue exclusion studies. GLUT1 overexpression resulted in a greater than twofold increase in proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression and live cell numbers, consistent with augmented VSMC proliferation. Lentiviral knockdown of cFLIPL showed that cFLIPL was necessary for the proproliferative and antiapoptotic effects of GLUT1 overexpression. Taken together, these data suggest that GLUT1 induction of cFLIPL expression augments proliferation and prevents apoptosis in VSMCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C759-C765
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucose
  • Metabolism
  • Neointimal hyperplasia
  • c-FLICE inhibitory protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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