Varicose veins have a thickening wall. Their smooth muscle cells are disorganized as regards proliferation and production of extracellular matrix protein. An imbalance between the synthesis of collagen type I protein (collagen I) and collagen type III protein (collagen III) could explain the lack of elasticity of varicose veins. Therefore, collagen synthesis was compared in the media and in cultured smooth muscle cells derived from human control and varicose saphenous veins. An increase in total collagen synthesis was observed in the media and in smooth muscle cells derived from varicose veins. This augmentation was due to an overproduction of collagen I in cultured cells from varicose veins consistent with an increase in the release of collagen I metabolites in the media. A concomitant decrease in collagen III was observed in cultures of smooth muscle cells from varicose veins. The increase in the synthesis of collagen I in cells from varicose veins was correlated with an overexpression of the gene since mRNAs for collagen I were augmented without change in mRNA-half-life. This augmentation in the synthesis of collagen I was reduced by the addition of exogenous collagen III in cultures from varicose veins. These findings suggest a dysregulation of the synthesis of collagen I and III in smooth muscle cells derived from varicose veins.

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