BACKGROUND - Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis and is expressed by the major cell types of atherosclerotic lesions. COX-1-mediated platelet thromboxane (TX) production has been proposed to promote both early atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Here, we examined the impact of COX-1 deficiency in bone marrow-derived cells on early atherogenesis in the mouse.
METHODS AND RESULTS - LDL receptor (LDLR)(-/-) and apolipoprotein E (apoE)(-/-) recipient mice were lethally irradiated and transplanted with COX-1(-/-) bone marrow. Mice reconstituted with COX-1(-/-) marrow had nearly complete (99.7%) loss of platelet TXA2 and significantly suppressed levels of macrophage and urinary TXA2 metabolites. Serum lipid levels and lipoprotein distributions did not differ between recipients reconstituted with COX-1(+/+) and COX-1(-/-) marrow. Surprisingly, the extent of atherosclerotic lesions in both LDLR(-/-) and apoE(-/-) mice reconstituted with COX-1(-/-) marrow was increased significantly compared with control mice transplanted with COX-1(+/+) marrow. Peritoneal macrophages isolated from LDLR(-/-) mice reconstituted with COX-1(-/-) marrow had increased lipopolysaccharide-induced levels of COX-2 mRNA and protein expression. Fetal liver cell transplantation studies revealed a 30% increase in atherosclerosis in COX-1(-/-)-->LDLR(-/-)mice compared with COX-1(+/+)-->LDLR(-/-)mice, whereas the extent of atherosclerosis was unchanged in COX-1(-/-)/COX-2(-/-)-->LDLR(-/-)mice.
CONCLUSIONS - COX-1 deficiency in bone marrow-derived cells worsens early atherosclerosis in apoE(-/-) and LDLR(-/-) mice despite virtual elimination of platelet TX production. These data demonstrate that platelet TX production does not aggravate early atherosclerotic lesion formation and that upregulation of COX-2 expression in COX-1(-/-) macrophages is proatherogenic.