NR4A1 (Nur77) Deletion Polarizes Macrophages Toward an Inflammatory Phenotype and Increases Atherosclerosis
Rationale: NR4A1 (Nur77) is a nuclear receptor that is expressed in macrophages and within atherosclerotic lesions, yet its function in atherosclerosis is unknown.
Objective: Nur77 regulates the development of monocytes, particularly patrolling Ly6C− monocytes that may be involved in resolution of inflammation. We sought to determine how absence of nuclear receptor family 4 member A1 (NR4A1) in hematopoietic cells affected atherosclerosis development.
Methods and Results: Nur77−/− chimeric mice on a Ldlr−/− background showed a 3-fold increase in atherosclerosis development when fed a Western diet for 20 weeks, despite having a drastic reduction in Ly6C− patrolling monocytes. In a second model, mice deficient in both Nur77 and ApoE (ApoE−/−Nur77−/−) also showed increased atherosclerosis after 11 weeks of Western diet. Atherosclerosis was associated with a significant change in macrophage polarization toward a proinflammatory phenotype, with high expression of tumor necrosis factor-α and nitric oxide and low expression of Arginase-I. Moreover, we found increased expression of toll-like receptor 4 mRNA and protein in Nur77−/− macrophages as well as increased phosphorylation of the p65 subunit of NFκB. Inhibition of NFκB activity blocked excess activation of Nur77−/− macrophages.
Conclusions: We conclude that the absence of Nur77 in monocytes and macrophages results in enhanced toll-like receptor signaling and polarization of macrophages toward a proinflammatory M1 phenotype. Despite having fewer monocytes, Nur77−/− mice developed significant atherosclerosis when fed a Western diet. These studies indicate that Nur77 is a novel target for modulating the inflammatory phenotype of monocytes and macrophages and may be important for regulation of atherogenesis.
- Received July 22, 2011.
- Revision received December 9, 2011.
- Accepted December 14, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.