Macrophage Mitochondrial Energy Status Regulates Cholesterol Efflux and is Enhanced by Anti-miR33 in Atherosclerosis
Rationale: Therapeutically targeting macrophage reverse cholesterol transport is a promising approach to treat atherosclerosis. Macrophage energy metabolism can significantly influence macrophage phenotype, but how this is controlled in foam cells is not known. Bioinformatic pathway analysis predicts that miR-33 represses a cluster of genes controlling cellular energy metabolism that may be important in macrophage cholesterol efflux.
Objective: We hypothesized that cellular energy status can influence cholesterol efflux from macrophages, and that miR-33 reduces cholesterol efflux via repression of mitochondrial energy metabolism pathways.
Methods and Results: In this study, we demonstrated that macrophage cholesterol efflux is regulated by mitochondrial ATP production, and that miR-33 controls a network of genes that synchronize mitochondrial function. Inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthase markedly reduces macrophage cholesterol efflux capacity, and anti-miR33 required fully functional mitochondria to enhance ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux. Specifically, anti-miR33 de-repressed the novel target genes PGC-1α, PDK4 and SLC25A25 and boosted mitochondrial respiration and production of ATP. Treatment of atherosclerotic Apoe-/- mice with anti-miR33 oligonucleotides reduced aortic sinus lesion area compared to controls, despite no changes in HDL-C or other circulating lipids. Expression of miR-33a/b was markedly increased in human carotid atherosclerotic plaques compared to normal arteries, and there was a concomitant decrease in mitochondrial regulatory genes PGC-1α, SLC25A25, NRF1 and TFAM, suggesting these genes are associated with advanced atherosclerosis in humans.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that anti-miR33 therapy de-represses genes that enhance mitochondrial respiration and ATP production, which in conjunction with increased ABCA1 expression, works to promote macrophage cholesterol efflux and reduce atherosclerosis.
- Received January 7, 2015.
- Revision received May 20, 2015.
- Accepted May 22, 2015.