Lysyl oxidase-like 2 depletion is protective in age-associated vascular stiffening

Jochen Steppan, Huilei Wang, Yehudit Bergman, Marcel J. Rauer, Siqi Tan, Sandeep Jandu, Kavitha Nandakumar, Sebastian Barreto-Ortiz, Robert N. Cole, Tatiana N. Boronina, Wanqu Zhu, Marc K. Halushka, Steven S. An, Dan E. Berkowitz, Lakshmi Santhanam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Vascu-lar stiffening and its sequelae are major causes of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. The increasingly accepted concept of “smooth muscle cell (SMC) stiffness syndrome” along with matrix deposition has emerged in vascular biology to account for the mechanical phenotype of arterial aging, but the molecular targets remain elusive. In this study, using an unbiased proteomic analysis, we identified lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2) as a critical SMC mediator for age-associated vascular stiffening. We tested the hypothesis that loss of LOXL2 function is protective in aging-associated vascular stiffening. We determined that exogenous and endogenous nitric oxide markedly decreased LOXL2 abundance and activity in the extracellular matrix of isolated SMCs and LOXL2 endothelial cells suppress LOXL2 abundance in the aorta. In a longitudinal study, LOXL2+/- mice were protected from age-associated increase in pulse-wave velocity, an index of vascular stiffening, as occurred in littermate wild-type mice. Using isolated aortic segments, we found that LOXL2 mediates vascular stiffening in aging by promoting SMC stiffness, augmented SMC contractility, and vascular matrix deposition. Together, these studies establish LOXL2 as a nodal point for a new therapeutic approach to treat age-associated vascular stiffening. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Increased central vascular stiffness augments risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. Despite significant advances in understanding the genetic and molecular underpinnings of vascular stiffening, targeted therapy has remained elusive. Here, we show that lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2) drives vascular stiffening during aging by promoting matrix remodeling and vascular smooth muscle cell stiffening. Reduced LOXL2 expression protects mice from age-associated vascular stiffening and delays the onset of isolated systolic hypertension, a major consequence of stiffening.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)H49-H59
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 the American Physiological Society.


  • Aging
  • Lysyl oxidase-like 2
  • Pulse-wave velocity
  • Vascular stiffness


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