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In the adult, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) are normally physiologically quiescent, arranged circumferentially in one or more layers within blood vessel walls. Remodelling of native VSMC to a proliferative state for vascular development, adaptation or repair is driven by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). A key effector downstream of PDGF receptors is store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) mediated through the plasma membrane calcium ion channel, ORAI1, which is activated by the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium store sensor, stromal interaction molecule-1 (STIM1). This SOCE was shown to play fundamental roles in the pathological remodelling of VSMC. Exciting transgenic lineage-tracing studies have revealed that the contribution of the phenotypically-modulated VSMC in atherosclerotic plaque formation is more significant than previously appreciated, and growing evidence supports the relevance of ORAI1 signalling in this pathologic remodelling. ORAI1 has also emerged as an attractive potential therapeutic target as it is accessible to extracellular compound inhibition. This is further supported by the progression of several ORAI1 inhibitors into clinical trials. Here we discuss the current knowledge of ORAI1-mediated signalling in pathologic vascular remodelling, particularly in the settings of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and neointimal hyperplasia, and the recent developments in our understanding of the mechanisms by which ORAI1 coordinates VSMC phenotypic remodelling, through the activation of key transcription factor, nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT). In addition, we discuss advances in therapeutic strategies aimed at the ORAI1 target.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology


Frontiers Media SA

Publication Date