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Although awareness of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is increasing, this common, potentially fatal, treatable condition remains underdiagnosed. Despite FH being a genetic disorder, genetic testing is rarely used. The Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation convened an international expert panel to assess the utility of FH genetic testing. The rationale includes the following: 1) facilitation of definitive diagnosis; 2) pathogenic variants indicate higher cardiovascular risk, which indicates the potential need for more aggressive lipid lowering; 3) increase in initiation of and adherence to therapy; and 4) cascade testing of at-risk relatives. The Expert Consensus Panel recommends that FH genetic testing become the standard of care for patients with definite or probable FH, as well as for their at-risk relatives. Testing should include the genes encoding the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), apolipoprotein B (APOB), and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9); other genes may also need to be considered for analysis based on patient phenotype. Expected outcomes include greater diagnoses, more effective cascade testing, initiation of therapies at earlier ages, and more accurate risk stratification.
Copyright © 2018 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Background - Rictor is an essential component of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2), a conserved serine/threonine kinase that may play a role in cell proliferation, survival and innate or adaptive immune responses. Genetic loss of inactivates mTORC2, which directly activates Akt S phosphorylation and promotes pro-survival cell signaling and proliferation.
Methods and results - To study the role of mTORC2 signaling in monocytes and macrophages, we generated mice with myeloid lineage-specific deletion (M). These M mice exhibited dramatic reductions of white blood cells, B-cells, T-cells, and monocytes but had similar levels of neutrophils compared to control flox-flox () mice. M bone marrow monocytes and peritoneal macrophages expressed reduced levels of mTORC2 signaling and decreased Akt S phosphorylation, and they displayed significantly less proliferation than control cells. In addition, blood monocytes and peritoneal macrophages isolated from M mice were significantly more sensitive to pro-apoptotic stimuli. In response to LPS, M macrophages exhibited the M1 phenotype with higher levels of pro-inflammatory gene expression and lower levels of gene expression than control cells. Further suppression of LPS-stimulated Akt signaling with a low dose of an Akt inhibitor, increased inflammatory gene expression in macrophages, but genetic inactivation of reversed this rise, indicating that mTORC1 mediates this increase of inflammatory gene expression. Next, to elucidate whether mTORC2 has an impact on atherosclerosis , female and male null mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from M or mice. After 10 weeks of the Western diet, there were no differences between the recipients of the same gender in body weight, blood glucose or plasma lipid levels. However, both female and male M → mice developed smaller atherosclerotic lesions in the distal and proximal aorta. These lesions contained less macrophage area and more apoptosis than lesions of control → mice. Thus, loss of and, consequently, mTORC2 significantly compromised monocyte/macrophage survival, and this markedly diminished early atherosclerosis in mice.
Conclusion - Our results demonstrate that mTORC2 is a key signaling regulator of macrophage survival and its depletion suppresses early atherosclerosis.
BACKGROUND - Numerous epidemiological studies support an inverse association between serum bilirubin levels and the incidence of cardiovascular disease; however, the mechanism(s) by which bilirubin may protect against atherosclerosis is undefined. The goals of the present investigations were to assess the ability of bilirubin to prevent atherosclerotic plaque formation in low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient ( ) mice and elucidate the molecular processes underlying this effect.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Bilirubin, at physiological concentrations (≤20 μmol/L), dose-dependently inhibits THP-1 monocyte migration across tumor necrosis factor α-activated human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers without altering leukocyte binding or cytokine production. A potent antioxidant, bilirubin effectively blocks the generation of cellular reactive oxygen species induced by the cross-linking of endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) or intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1). These findings were validated by treating cells with blocking antibodies or with specific inhibitors of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 signaling. When administered to mice on a Western diet, bilirubin (30 mg/kg intraperitoneally) prevents atherosclerotic plaque formation, but does not alter circulating cholesterol or chemokine levels. Aortic roots from bilirubin-treated animals exhibit reduced lipid and collagen deposition, decreased infiltration of monocytes and lymphocytes, fewer smooth muscle cells, and diminished levels of chlorotyrosine and nitrotyrosine, without changes in VCAM-1 or ICAM-1 expression.
CONCLUSIONS - Bilirubin suppresses atherosclerotic plaque formation in mice by disrupting endothelial VCAM-1- and ICAM-1-mediated leukocyte migration through the scavenging of reactive oxygen species signaling intermediaries. These findings suggest a potential mechanism for the apparent cardioprotective effects of bilirubin.
© 2017 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell.
OBJECTIVE - Antiatherosclerotic effects of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) blockade in patients with systemic inflammatory states are not conclusively demonstrated, which suggests that effects depend on the cause of inflammation. Macrophage LRP1 (low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1) and apoE contribute to inflammation through different pathways. We studied the antiatherosclerosis effects of TNF-α blockade in hyperlipidemic mice lacking either LRP1 (MΦLRP1(-/-)) or apoE from macrophages.
APPROACH AND RESULTS - Lethally irradiated low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)(-/-) mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from either wild-type, MΦLRP1(-/-), apoE(-/-) or apoE(-/-)/MΦLRP1(-/-)(DKO) mice, and then treated with the TNF-α inhibitor adalimumab while fed a Western-type diet. Adalimumab reduced plasma TNF-α concentration, suppressed blood ly6C(hi) monocyte levels and their migration into the lesion, and reduced lesion cellularity and inflammation in both wild-type→LDLR(-/-) and apoE(-/-)→LDLR(-/-) mice. Overall, adalimumab reduced lesion burden by 52% to 57% in these mice. Adalimumab reduced TNF-α and blood ly6C(hi) monocyte levels in MΦLRP1(-/-)→LDLR(-/-) and DKO→LDLR(-/-) mice, but it did not suppress ly6C(hi) monocyte migration into the lesion or atherosclerosis progression.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results show that TNF-α blockade exerts antiatherosclerotic effects that are dependent on the presence of macrophage LRP1.
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
OBJECTIVE - The c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNK) are regulated by a wide variety of cellular stresses and have been implicated in apoptotic signaling. Macrophages express 2 JNK isoforms, JNK1 and JNK2, which may have different effects on cell survival and atherosclerosis.
APPROACH AND RESULTS - To dissect the effect of macrophage JNK1 and JNK2 on early atherosclerosis, Ldlr(-/-) mice were reconstituted with wild-type, Jnk1(-/-), and Jnk2(-/-) hematopoietic cells and fed a high cholesterol diet. Jnk1(-/-)→Ldlr(-/-) mice have larger atherosclerotic lesions with more macrophages and fewer apoptotic cells than mice transplanted with wild-type or Jnk2(-/-) cells. Moreover, genetic ablation of JNK to a single allele (Jnk1(+/-)/Jnk2(-/-) or Jnk1(-/-)/Jnk2(+/-)) in marrow of Ldlr(-/-) recipients further increased atherosclerosis compared with Jnk1(-/-)→Ldlr(-/-) and wild-type→Ldlr(-/-) mice. In mouse macrophages, anisomycin-mediated JNK signaling antagonized Akt activity, and loss of Jnk1 gene obliterated this effect. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of JNK1, but not JNK2, markedly reduced the antagonizing effect of JNK on Akt activity. Prolonged JNK signaling in the setting of endoplasmic reticulum stress gradually extinguished Akt and Bad activity in wild-type cells with markedly less effects in Jnk1(-/-) macrophages, which were also more resistant to apoptosis. Consequently, anisomycin increased and JNK1 inhibitors suppressed endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis in macrophages. We also found that genetic and pharmacological inhibition of phosphatase and tensin homolog abolished the JNK-mediated effects on Akt activity, indicating that phosphatase and tensin homolog mediates crosstalk between these pathways.
CONCLUSIONS - Loss of Jnk1, but not Jnk2, in macrophages protects them from apoptosis, increasing cell survival, and this accelerates early atherosclerosis.
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
AIMS - Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) promotes the degradation of hepatic low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors (LDLR), thereby, decreasing hepatocyte LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) uptake. However, it is unknown whether PCSK9 has effects on atherogenesis that are independent of lipid changes. The present study investigated the effect of human (h) PCSK9 on plasma lipids, hepatic lipogenesis, and atherosclerotic lesion size and composition in transgenic mice expressing hPCSK9 (hPCSK9tg) on wild-type (WT), LDLR⁻/⁻, or apoE⁻/⁻ background.
METHODS AND RESULTS - hPCSK9 expression significantly increased plasma cholesterol (+91%), triglycerides (+18%), and apoB (+57%) levels only in WT mice. The increase in plasma lipids was a consequence of both decreased hepatic LDLR and increased hepatic lipid production, mediated transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally by PCSK9 and dependent on both LDLR and apoE. Despite the lack of changes in plasma lipids in mice expressing hPCSK9 and lacking LDLR (the main target for PCSK9) or apoE (a canonical ligand for the LDLR), hPCSK9 expression increased aortic lesion size in the absence of apoE (268 655 ± 97 972 µm² in hPCSK9tg/apoE⁻/⁻ vs. 189 423 ± 65 700 µm(2) in apoE⁻/⁻) but not in the absence of LDLR. Additionally, hPCSK9 accumulated in the atheroma and increased lesion Ly6C(hi) monocytes (by 21%) in apoE⁻/⁻ mice, but not in LDLR⁻/⁻ mice.
CONCLUSIONS - PCSK9 increases hepatic lipid and lipoprotein production via apoE- and LDLR-dependent mechanisms. However, hPCSK9 also accumulate in the artery wall and directly affects atherosclerosis lesion size and composition independently of such plasma lipid and lipoprotein changes. These effects of hPCSK9 are dependent on LDLR but are independent of apoE.
Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2016. For permissions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OBJECTIVE - The IκB kinase (IKK) is an enzyme complex that initiates the nuclear factor κB transcription factor cascade, which is important in regulating multiple cellular responses. IKKα is directly associated with 2 major prosurvival pathways, PI3K/Akt and nuclear factor κB, but its role in cell survival is not clear. Macrophages play critical roles in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, yet the impact of IKKα signaling on macrophage survival and atherogenesis remains unclear.
APPROACH AND RESULTS - Here, we demonstrate that genetic IKKα deficiency, as well as pharmacological inhibition of IKK, in mouse macrophages significantly reduces Akt S(473) phosphorylation, which is accompanied by suppression of mTOR complex 2 signaling. Moreover, IKKα null macrophages treated with lipotoxic palmitic acid exhibited early exhaustion of Akt signaling compared with wild-type cells. This was accompanied by a dramatic decrease in the resistance of IKKα(-/-) monocytes and macrophages to different proapoptotic stimuli compared with wild-type cells. In vivo, IKKα deficiency increased macrophage apoptosis in atherosclerotic lesions and decreased early atherosclerosis in both female and male low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)(-/-) mice reconstituted with IKKα(-/-) hematopoietic cells and fed with the Western diet for 8 weeks compared with control LDLR(-/-) mice transplanted with wild-type cells.
CONCLUSIONS - Hematopoietic IKKα deficiency in mouse suppresses Akt signaling, compromising monocyte/macrophage survival and this decreases early atherosclerosis.
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) promotes atherosclerosis by increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels through degradation of hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR). Studies have described the systemic effects of PCSK9 on atherosclerosis, but whether PCSK9 has local and direct effects on the plaque is unknown. To study the local effect of human PCSK9 (hPCSK9) on atherosclerotic lesion composition, independently of changes in serum cholesterol levels, we generated chimeric mice expressing hPCSK9 exclusively from macrophages, using marrow from hPCSK9 transgenic (hPCSK9tg) mice transplanted into apoE(-/-) and LDLR(-/-) mice, which were then placed on a high-fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks. We further characterized the effect of hPCSK9 expression on the inflammatory responses in the spleen and by mouse peritoneal macrophages (MPM) in vitro. We found that MPMs from transgenic mice express both murine (m) Pcsk9 and hPCSK9 and that the latter reduces macrophage LDLR and LRP1 surface levels. We detected hPCSK9 in the serum of mice transplanted with hPCSK9tg marrow, but did not influence lipid levels or atherosclerotic lesion size. However, marrow-derived PCSK9 progressively accumulated in lesions of apoE(-/-) recipient mice, while increasing the infiltration of Ly6C(hi) inflammatory monocytes by 32% compared with controls. Expression of hPCSK9 also increased CD11b- and Ly6C(hi) -positive cell numbers in spleens of apoE(-/-) mice. In vitro, expression of hPCSK9 in LPS-stimulated macrophages increased mRNA levels of the pro-inflammatory markers Tnf and Il1b (40% and 45%, respectively) and suppressed those of the anti-inflammatory markers Il10 and Arg1 (30% and 44%, respectively). All PCSK9 effects were LDLR-dependent, as PCSK9 protein was not detected in lesions of LDLR(-/-) recipient mice and did not affect macrophage or splenocyte inflammation. In conclusion, PCSK9 directly increases atherosclerotic lesion inflammation in an LDLR-dependent but cholesterol-independent mechanism, suggesting that therapeutic PCSK9 inhibition may have vascular benefits secondary to LDL reduction.
Copyright © 2015 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
RATIONALE - Human and murine Vcam1 promoters contain 2 adjacent nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB)-binding elements. Both are essential for cytokine-induced transcription of transiently transfected promoter-reporter constructs. However, the relevance of these insights to regulation of the endogenous Vcam1 gene and to pathophysiological processes in vivo remained unknown.
OBJECTIVE - Determine the role of the 5' NF-κB-binding element in expression of the endogenous Vcam1 gene.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells was used to inactivate the 5' NF-κB element in the Vcam1 promoter and alter 3 nucleotides in the 5' untranslated region to allow direct comparison of wild-type versus mutant allele RNA expression and chromatin configuration in heterozygous mice. Systemic treatment with inflammatory cytokines or endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) induced lower expression of the mutant allele relative to wild-type by endothelial cells in the aorta, heart, and lungs. The mutant allele also showed lower endothelial expression in 2-week atherosclerotic lesions in Vcam1 heterozygous/low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice fed a cholesterol-rich diet. In vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation assays of heart showed diminished lipopolysaccharide-induced association of RNA polymerase 2 and NF-κB p65 with the mutant promoter. In contrast, expression of mutant and wild-type alleles was comparable in intimal cells of wire-injured carotid artery and 4- to 12-week atherosclerotic lesions.
CONCLUSIONS - This study highlights differences between in vivo and in vitro promoter analyses, and reveals a differential role for a NF-κB transcriptional response element in endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 expression induced by inflammatory cytokines or a cholesterol-rich diet versus intimal cell expression in atherosclerotic lesions and injured arteries.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.