Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Receptor Deficiency in Macrophages Accelerates Atherosclerosis and Induces an Unstable Plaque Phenotype in Apolipoprotein E-Deficient Mice

Yusuke Higashi, Sergiy Sukhanov, Shaw-Yung Shai, Svitlana Danchuk, Richard Tang, Patricia Snarski, Zhaohui Li, Patricia Lobelle-Rich, Meifang Wang, Derek Wang, Hong Yu, Ronald Korthuis, Patrice Delafontaine
Circulation 2016 June 7, 133 (23): 2263-78

BACKGROUND: We have previously shown that systemic infusion of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and reduces atherosclerotic burden in apolipoprotein E (Apoe)-deficient mice. Monocytes/macrophages express high levels of IGF-1 receptor (IGF1R) and play a pivotal role in atherogenesis, but the potential effects of IGF-1 on their function are unknown.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To determine mechanisms whereby IGF-1 reduces atherosclerosis and to explore the potential involvement of monocytes/macrophages, we created monocyte/macrophage-specific IGF1R knockout (MΦ-IGF1R-KO) mice on an Apoe(-/-) background. We assessed atherosclerotic burden, plaque features of stability, and monocyte recruitment to atherosclerotic lesions. Phenotypic changes of IGF1R-deficient macrophages were investigated in culture. MΦ-IGF1R-KO significantly increased atherosclerotic lesion formation, as assessed by Oil Red O staining of en face aortas and aortic root cross-sections, and changed plaque composition to a less stable phenotype, characterized by increased macrophage and decreased α-smooth muscle actin-positive cell population, fibrous cap thinning, and decreased collagen content. Brachiocephalic artery lesions of MΦ-IGF1R-KO mice had histological features implying plaque vulnerability. Macrophages isolated from MΦ-IGF1R-KO mice showed enhanced proinflammatory responses on stimulation by interferon-γ and oxidized low-density lipoprotein and elevated antioxidant gene expression levels. Moreover, IGF1R-deficient macrophages had decreased expression of ABCA1 and ABCG1 and reduced lipid efflux.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that macrophage IGF1R signaling suppresses macrophage and foam cell accumulation in lesions and reduces plaque vulnerability, providing a novel mechanism whereby IGF-1 exerts antiatherogenic effects.

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