Atherosclerosis is the major etiology underlying myocardial infarction and stroke, and strategies for preventing atherosclerosis are urgently needed. In the context of atherosclerosis, the deletion of the Nrf2 gene, which encodes a master regulator of the oxidative stress response in mammals, reportedly attenuates atherosclerosis formation. However, the precise mechanisms of protection against atherosclerosis are largely unknown. To further clarify the role of Nrf2 in atherosclerosis in vivo, we performed a time course analysis of atherosclerosis development utilizing an ApoE knockout (KO) mouse model. The results demonstrate that oil red O-stainable lesions were similar in size 5 weeks after the initiation of an HFC (high fat and high cholesterol) diet, but the lesions were markedly attenuated in the Nrf2 and ApoE double KO mice (A0N0 mice) compared with the lesions in the ApoE KO mice (A0N2 mice) at 12 weeks. Consistent with these results, the immunohistochemical analysis revealed that Nrf2 activation is observed in late-stage atherosclerotic plaques but not in earlier lesions. The RT-qPCR analysis of 12-week atherosclerotic plaques revealed that Nrf2 target genes, such as Ho-1 and SLPI, are expressed at significantly lower levels in the A0N0 mice compared with the A0N2 mice, and this change was associated with a decreased expression of macrophage M1-subtype genes Arginase II and inducible NO synthase in the A0N0 mice. Furthermore, the bone marrow (BM) transplantation (BMT) analysis revealed that the Nrf2 activity in the BM-derived cells contributed to lesion formation. Therefore, our study has characterized the positive role of Nrf2 in the BM-derived cells during the development of atherosclerosis, which suggests that Nrf2 may influence the inflammatory reactions in the plaques.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Free Radical Biology and Medicine|
|Publication status||Published - 2012 Dec 15|
- ApoE knockout mice
- Macrophage polarization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)