Long non-coding RNA in regulation of plasticity of vascular smooth muscle cells
Phenotypic plasticity of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is a functional property that is essential for vascular remodeling in vessel injury healing. During phenotypic switch, quiescent VSMCs loss contractile capacity but acquire ability to proliferate and migrate to the injured site where they differentiate again to the quiescent state. However, in pathological conditions such as endothelial dysfunction or atherosclerosis, phenotypic changes in arterial VSMCs become deregulated leading to elevated VSMC dedifferentiation, proliferation, excessive extracellular matrix deposits, and intimal thickening. VSMC hyperplasia is a complex mechanism that is coordinated by a network of various regulatory factors. Long non-coding (lnc)RNAs represent an important part of this regulatory network. Some of lncRNAs are involved in VSMC differentiation, apoptosis, and maintenance of VSMC quiescence, while other lncRNAs promote VSMC dedifferentiation, proliferation, and motility. In this review, we characterize these RNAs and their function in the context of possible involvement to atherosclerosis.