Imbalanced gp130 signalling in ApoE-deficient mice protects against atherosclerosis

Gareth W Jones, Louise McLeod, Catherine L Kennedy, Steven Bozinovski, Meri Najdovska, Brendan J Jenkins
Atherosclerosis 2015, 238 (2): 321-8

OBJECTIVE: Interleukin (IL)-6 is a key modulator of the acute phase response (APR), and while both are implicated in atherosclerosis, the pathological role of specific IL-6 signalling cascades is ill-defined. Since IL-6 employs the cytokine receptor gp130 to primarily activate the STAT3 pathway, here we evaluate whether gp130-dependent STAT3 activation modulates atherosclerosis.

METHODS: High-fat diet-induced atherosclerosis was established in ApoE(-/-) mice crossed with gp130(F/F) knock-in mice displaying elevated gp130-dependent STAT3 activation and production of the APR protein, serum amyloid A (SAA). Also generated were gp130(F/F):Stat3(-/+):ApoE(-/-) mice displaying genetically-normalised STAT3 activation and SAA levels, and bone marrow chimeras involving ApoE(-/-) and gp130(F/F):ApoE(-/-) mice. At 10 weeks post high-fat diet, aortic atherosclerotic lesions, including the presence of CD68(+) macrophages, and plasma lipid and SAA profiles, were assessed.

RESULTS: Aortic plaque development and plasma triglyceride levels in gp130(F/F):ApoE(-/-) mice were significantly reduced (3-fold, P < 0.001) compared to ApoE(-/-) littermates. By contrast, in gp130(F/F):ApoE(-/-) mice, atherosclerotic plaques contained augmented CD68(+) macrophage infiltrates, and plasma SAA levels were elevated, compared to ApoE(-/-) mice. Atherosclerotic lesion development and plasma triglyceride levels in gp130(F/F):ApoE(-/-) and gp130(F/F):Stat3(-/+):ApoE(-/-) mice were comparable, despite a significant (P < 0.05) reduction in macrophage numbers in lesions, and also plasma SAA levels, in gp130(F/F):Stat3(-/+):ApoE(-/-) mice. Aortic plaque development and plasma triglyceride levels were comparable in ApoE(-/-) mice reconstituted with gp130(F/F):ApoE(-/-) (ApoE(F/F:ApoE)) or ApoE(-/-) (ApoE(ApoE)) bone marrow cells.

CONCLUSIONS: Deregulation of gp130/STAT3 signalling augments the APR and macrophage infiltration during atherosclerosis without impacting on the development of aortic plaques.

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