Fibronectin Splicing Variants Containing Extra Domain A Promote Atherosclerosis in Mice Through Toll-Like Receptor 4

Prakash Doddapattar, Chintan Gandhi, Prem Prakash, Nirav Dhanesha, Isabella M Grumbach, Michael E Dailey, Steven R Lentz, Anil K Chauhan
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2015, 35 (11): 2391-400

OBJECTIVE: Cellular fibronectin containing extra domain A (EDA(+)-FN) is abundant in the arteries of patients with atherosclerosis. Several in vitro studies suggest that EDA(+)-FN interacts with Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). We tested the hypothesis that EDA(+)-FN exacerbates atherosclerosis through TLR4 in a clinically relevant model of atherosclerosis, the apolipoprotein E-deficient (Apoe(-/-)) mouse.

APPROACH AND RESULTS: The extent of atherosclerosis was evaluated in whole aortae and cross sections of the aortic sinus in male and female EDA(-/-)Apoe(-/-) mice (which lack EDA(+)-FN), EDA(fl/fl)Apoe(-/-) mice (which constitutively express EDA(+)-FN), and control Apoe(-/-) mice fed a high-fat Western diet for 14 weeks. Irrespective of sex, EDA(fl/fl)Apoe(-/-) mice exhibited a 2-fold increase in atherosclerotic lesions (aorta and aortic sinus) and macrophage content within plaques, whereas EDA(-/-)Apoe(-/-) mice exhibited reduced atherosclerotic lesions (P<0.05 versus Apoe(-/-), n=10-12 mice/group), although cholesterol and triglyceride levels and circulating leukocytes were similar. Genetic ablation of TLR4 partially reversed atherosclerosis exacerbation in EDA(fl/fl)Apoe(-/-) mice (P<0.05) but had no effect on atherosclerotic lesions in EDA(-/-)Apoe(-/-) mice. Purified cellular FN, which contains EDA, potentiated dose-dependent NFκB-mediated inflammation (increased phospho-NFκB p65/NFκB p65, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-1β) in bone marrow-derived macrophages from EDA(-/-)Apoe(-/-) mice but not from EDA(-/-)TLR4(-/-)Apoe(-/-) mice. Finally, using immunohistochemistry, we provide evidence for the first time that EDA(+)-FN colocalizes with macrophage TLR4 in murine aortic lesions and human coronary artery atherosclerotic plaques.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings reveal that TLR4 signaling contributes to EDA(+)-FN-mediated exacerbation of atherosclerosis. We suggest that EDA(+)-FN could be a therapeutic target in atherosclerosis.

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