PAC1 deficiency attenuates progression of atherosclerosis in ApoE deficient mice under cholesterol-enriched diet

Paul Splitthoff, Erik Rasbach, Philip Neudert, Gabriel A Bonaterra, Anja Schwarz, Lilli Mey, Hans Schwarzbach, Lee E Eiden, Eberhard Weihe, Ralf Kinscherf
Immunobiology 2020 February 29, : 151930
The neuropeptide, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is vasoactive and cytoprotective and exerts immunoregulatory functions throughout the nervous, neuroendocrine cardiovascular and immune systems in health and disease. PACAP mainly acts through PAC1 receptor signaling in neuronal communication, but the role of PAC1 in immune regulation of atherosclerosis is not known. Here, we generated PAC1-/- /ApoE-/- mice to test, whether PAC1-/- influences plasma cholesterol-/triglyceride levels and/or atherogenesis in the brachiocephalic trunk (BT) seen in ApoE-/- mice, under standard chow (SC) or cholesterol-enriched diet (CED). Furthermore, the effect of PAC1-/- , on inflammatory, autophagy-, apoptosis- and necroptosis-relevant proteins in atherosclerotic plaques was determined. In plaques of PAC1-/- /ApoE-/- mice fed a SC, the immunoreactivity for apoptotic, autophagic, necroptotic and proinflammatory proteins was increased, however, proliferation was unaffected. Interestingly, without affecting hyperlipidemia, PAC1-/- in ApoE-/- mice remarkably reduced CED-induced lumen stenosis seen in ApoE-/- mice. Thus, PAC1-/- allows unchecked inflammation, necroptosis and decreased proliferation during SC, apparently priming the BT to develop reduced atheroma under subsequent CED. Remarkably, no differences in inflammation/necroptosis signatures in the atheroma under CED between PAC1-/- /ApoE-/- and ApoE-/- mice were observed. These data indicate that selective PAC1 antagonists should offer potential as a novel class of atheroprotective therapeutics, especially during hypercholesterolemia.

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