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Age-Dependent RGS5 Loss in Pericytes Induces Cardiac Dysfunction and Fibrosis



Pericytes are capillary-associated mural cells involved in the maintenance and stability of the vascular network. Although aging is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the consequences of aging on cardiac pericytes are unknown.


In this study, we have combined single-nucleus RNA sequencing and histological analysis to determine the effects of aging on cardiac pericytes. Furthermore, we have conducted in vivo and in vitro analysis of RGS5 (regulator of G-protein signaling 5) loss of function and finally have performed pericytes-fibroblasts coculture studies to understand the effect of RGS5 deletion in pericytes on the neighboring fibroblasts.


Aging reduced the pericyte area and capillary coverage in the murine heart. Single-nucleus RNA sequencing analysis further revealed that the expression of Rgs5 was reduced in cardiac pericytes from aged mice. In vivo and in vitro studies showed that the deletion of RGS5 impaired cardiac function, induced fibrosis, and morphological changes in pericytes characterized by a profibrotic gene expression signature and the expression of different ECM (extracellular matrix) components and growth factors, for example, TGFB2 and PDGFB. Indeed, culturing fibroblasts with the supernatant of RGS5-deficient pericytes induced their activation as evidenced by the increased expression of αSMA (alpha smooth muscle actin) in a TGFβ (transforming growth factor beta)2-dependent mechanism.


Our results have identified RGS5 as a crucial regulator of pericyte function during cardiac aging. The deletion of RGS5 causes cardiac dysfunction and induces myocardial fibrosis, one of the hallmarks of cardiac aging.


Link to the paper:

Anita Tamiato, Lukas S. Tombor, Ariane Fischer, Marion Muhly-Reinholz, Leah Rebecca Vanicek, Büşra Nur Toğru, Jessica Neitz, Simone Franziska Glaser, Maximilian Merten, David Rodriguez Morales, Jeonghyeon Kwon, Stephan Klatt, Bianca Schumacher, Stefan Günther, Wesley T. Abplanalp, David John, Ingrid Fleming, Nina Wettschureck, Stefanie Dimmeler and Guillermo Luxán.

Originally published2 Apr 2024: Circulation Research. 2024;0