TWEAK-Fn14 interaction enhances plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 and tissue factor expression in atherosclerotic plaques and in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells

Begoña Muñoz-García, Julio Madrigal-Matute, Juan A Moreno, Jose L Martin-Ventura, Oscar López-Franco, Cristina Sastre, Luis Ortega, Linda C Burkly, Jesús Egido, Luis M Blanco-Colio
Cardiovascular Research 2011 January 1, 89 (1): 225-33

AIMS: atherosclerotic plaque development can conclude with a thrombotic acute event triggered by plaque rupture/erosion. Tumour necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) is a member of the tumour necrosis factor superfamily that, through its receptor, fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14), participates in vascular remodelling, increasing vascular inflammatory responses and atherosclerotic lesion size in ApoE knockout mice. However, the role of the TWEAK-Fn14 axis in thrombosis has not been previously investigated.

METHODS AND RESULTS: we have examined whether TWEAK regulates expression of prothrombotic factors such as tissue factor (TF) and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) in atherosclerotic plaques as well as in human aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (hASMCs) in culture. Expression of TF and PAI-1 was colocalized and positively correlated with Fn14 in human carotid atherosclerotic plaques. In vitro, TWEAK increased TF and PAI-1 mRNA, protein expression and activity in hASMCs. All these effects were reversed using blocking anti-TWEAK monoclonal antibody, anti-Fn14 antibody or Fn14 small interfering RNA, indicating that TWEAK increased the prothrombotic state through its receptor, Fn14. Finally, ApoE(-/-) mice were fed a hyperlipidaemic diet for 10 weeks, then randomized and treated with saline (controls), TWEAK (10 microg/kg/day), anti-TWEAK neutralizing monoclonal antibody (1000 µg/kg/day), or non-specific immunoglobulin G (1000 microg/kg/day) daily for 9 days. Systemic TWEAK injection increased TF and PAI-1 protein expression in the aortic root of ApoE(-/-) mice. Conversely, TWEAK blocking antibodies diminished both TF and PAI-1 protein expression compared with non-specific immunoglobulin G-treated mice.

CONCLUSIONS: our results indicate that the TWEAK-Fn14 axis can regulate activation of TF and PAI-1 expression in vascular cells. TWEAK-Fn14 may be a therapeutic target in the prothrombotic complications associated with atherosclerosis.

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