Deficiency of ABCA1 and ABCG1 in Macrophages Increases Inflammation and Accelerates Atherosclerosis in Mice
Rationale: Plasma HDL levels are inversely correlated with atherosclerosis. Although it is widely assumed that this is due to the ability of HDL to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophage foam cells, direct experimental support for this hypothesis is lacking.
Objective: To assess the role of macrophage cholesterol efflux pathways in atherogenesis.
Methods and Results: We developed MAC-ABCDKO mice with efficient deletion of the ATP Binding Cassette Transporters A1 and G1 (ABCA1 and ABCG1) in macrophages but not in hematopoietic stem or progenitor populations. MAC-ABCDKO bone marrow (BM) was transplanted into Ldlr-/- recipients. On the chow diet, these mice had similar plasma cholesterol and blood monocyte levels but increased atherosclerosis compared to controls. On the Western type diet (WTD), MAC-ABCDKO BM transplanted Ldlr-/- mice had disproportionate atherosclerosis, considering they also had lower VLDL/LDL cholesterol levels than controls. ABCA1/G1 deficient macrophages in lesions showed increased inflammatory gene expression. Unexpectedly, WTD-fed MAC-ABCDKO BM transplanted Ldlr-/- mice displayed monocytosis and neutrophilia in the absence of HSPC proliferation. Mechanistic studies revealed increased expression of M-CSF and G-CSF in splenic macrophage foam cells, driving BM monocyte and neutrophil production.
Conclusions: These studies 1) show that macrophage deficiency of ABCA1/G1 is pro-atherogenic likely by promoting plaque inflammation and 2) uncover a novel positive feedback loop in which cholesterol-laden splenic macrophages signal BM progenitors to produce monocytes, with suppression by macrophage cholesterol efflux pathways.
- Received January 29, 2013.
- Revision received March 18, 2013.
- Accepted April 9, 2013.