Activation of TRPV1 reduces vascular lipid accumulation and attenuates atherosclerosis

Liqun Ma, Jian Zhong, Zhigang Zhao, Zhidan Luo, Shuangtao Ma, Jing Sun, Hongbo He, Tianqi Zhu, Daoyan Liu, Zhiming Zhu, Martin Tepel
Cardiovascular Research 2011 December 1, 92 (3): 504-13

AIMS: Activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) channels may affect lipid storage and the cellular inflammatory response. Now, we tested the hypothesis that activation of TRPV1 channels attenuates atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E knockout mice (ApoE(-/-)) but not ApoE(-/-)TRPV1(-/-) double knockout mice on a high-fat diet.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Both TRPV1 mRNA and protein expression were identified in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and in aorta from C57BL/6J mice using RT-PCR, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemistry. In vitro, activation of TRPV1 by the specific agonists capsaicin and resiniferatoxin dose-dependently increased cytosolic calcium and significantly reduced the accumulation of lipids in VSMC from C57BL/6J mice but not from TRPV1(-/-) mice. TRPV1 activation increased ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) expression and reduced low-density lipoprotein-related protein 1 (LRP1) expression in VSMC by calcium-dependent and calcineurin- and protein kinase A-dependent mechanisms. These results showed increased cellular cholesterol efflux and reduced cholesterol uptake. In vivo, long-term activation of TRPV1 by capsaicin for 24 weeks increased ABCA1 and reduced LRP1 expression in aorta from ApoE(-/-) mice on a high-fat diet. Long-term activation of TRPV1 significantly reduced lipid storage and atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic sinus and in the thoracoabdominal aorta from ApoE(-/-) mice but not from ApoE(-/-)TRPV1(-/-) mice on a high-fat diet. These findings indicated that TRPV1 activation ameliorates high-fat diet-induced atherosclerosis.

CONCLUSION: Activation of TRPV1 may be a novel therapeutic tool to attenuate atherosclerosis caused by a high-fat diet.

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