BACKGROUND - The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARalpha) plays important roles in lipid metabolism, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. PPARalpha ligands have been shown to reduce cardiovascular events in high-risk subjects. PPARalpha expression by arterial cells, including macrophages, may exert local antiatherogenic effects independent of plasma lipid changes.
METHODS AND RESULTS - To examine the contribution of PPARalpha expression by bone marrow-derived cells in atherosclerosis, male and female low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (LDLR(-/-)) mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from PPARalpha(-/-) or PPARalpha(+/+) mice and challenged with a high-fat diet. Although serum lipids and lipoprotein profiles did not differ between the groups, the size of atherosclerotic lesions in the distal aorta of male and female PPARalpha(-/-) --> LDLR(-/-) mice was significantly increased (44% and 46%, respectively) compared with controls. Male PPARalpha(-/-) --> LDLR(-/-) mice also had larger (44%) atherosclerotic lesions in the proximal aorta than male PPARalpha(+/+) --> LDLR(-/-) mice. Peritoneal macrophages from PPARalpha(-/-) mice had increased uptake of oxidized LDL and decreased cholesterol efflux. PPARalpha(-/-) macrophages had lower levels of scavenger receptor B type I and ABCA1 protein expression and an accelerated response of nuclear factor-kappaB-regulated inflammatory genes. A laser capture microdissection analysis verified suppressed scavenger receptor B type I and increased nuclear factor-kappaB gene expression levels in vivo in atherosclerotic lesions of PPARalpha(-/-) --> LDLR(-/-) mice compared with the lesions of control PPARalpha(+/+) --> LDLR(-/-) mice.
CONCLUSIONS - These data demonstrate that PPARalpha expression by macrophages has antiatherogenic effects via modulation of cell cholesterol trafficking and inflammatory activity.