Distinct roles for dietary lipids and Porphyromonas gingivalis infection on atherosclerosis progression and the gut microbiota.
ABSTRACT: Mounting evidence in humans supports an etiological role for the microbiota in inflammatory atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease characterized by accumulation of inflammatory cells and lipids in vascular tissue. While retention of lipoprotein into the sub-endothelial vascular layer is believed to be the initiating stimulus leading to the development of atherosclerosis, activation of multiple pathways related to vascular inflammation and endothelial dysfunction sustain the process by stimulating recruitment of leukocytes and immune cells into the sub-endothelial layer. The Gram-negative oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis has been associated with the development and acceleration of atherosclerosis in humans and these observations have been validated in animal models. It has been proposed that common mechanisms of immune signaling link stimulation by lipids and pathogens to vascular inflammation. Despite the common outcome of P. gingivalis and lipid feeding on atherosclerosis progression, we established that these pro-atherogenic stimuli induced distinct gene signatures in the ApoE-/- mouse model of atherosclerosis. In this study, we further defined the distinct roles of dietary lipids and P. gingivalis infection on atherosclerosis progression and the gut microbiota. We demonstrate that diet-induced lipid lowering resulted in less atherosclerotic plaque in ApoE-/- mice compared to ApoE-/- mice continuously fed a Western diet. However, the effect of diet-induced lipid lowering on plaque accumulation was blunted by P. gingivalis infection. Using principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering, we demonstrate that dietary intervention as well as P. gingivalis infection result in distinct bacterial communities in fecal and cecal samples of ApoE-/- mice as compared to ApoE-/- mice continuously fed either a Western diet or a normal chow diet. Collectively, we identified distinct microbiota changes accompanying atherosclerotic plaque, suggesting a future avenue for investigation on the impact of the gut microbiota, diet, and P. gingivalis infection on atherosclerosis.
Project description:Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease characterized by inflammation and accumulation of lipids in vascular tissue. Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) and Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cp) are associated with inflammatory atherosclerosis in humans. Similar to endogenous mediators arising from excessive dietary lipids, these Gram-negative pathogens are pro-atherogenic in animal models, although the specific inflammatory/atherogenic pathways induced by these stimuli are not well defined. In this study, we identified gene expression profiles that characterize P. gingivalis, C. pneumoniae, and Western diet (WD) at acute and chronic time points in aortas of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE-/-) mice.At the chronic time point, we observed that P. gingivalis was associated with a high number of unique differentially expressed genes compared to C. pneumoniae or WD. For the top 500 differentially expressed genes unique to each group, we observed a high percentage (76%) that exhibited decreased expression in P. gingivalis-treated mice in contrast to a high percentage (96%) that exhibited increased expression in WD mice. C. pneumoniae treatment resulted in approximately equal numbers of genes that exhibited increased and decreased expression. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) revealed distinct stimuli-associated phenotypes, including decreased expression of mitochondrion, glucose metabolism, and PPAR pathways in response to P. gingivalis but increased expression of mitochondrion, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, and PPAR pathways in response to C. pneumoniae; WD was associated with increased expression of immune and inflammatory pathways. DAVID analysis of gene clusters identified by two-way ANOVA at acute and chronic time points revealed a set of core genes that exhibited altered expression during the natural progression of atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice; these changes were enhanced in P. gingivalis-treated mice but attenuated in C. pneumoniae-treated mice. Notable differences in the expression of genes associated with unstable plaques were also observed among the three pro-atherogenic stimuli.Despite the common outcome of P. gingivalis, C. pneumoniae, and WD on the induction of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis, distinct gene signatures and pathways unique to each pro-atherogenic stimulus were identified. Our results suggest that pathogen exposure results in dysregulated cellular responses that may impact plaque progression and regression pathways.
Project description:Endothelial dysfunction is recognized as a major contributor to atherosclerosis and has been suggested to be evident far before plaque formation. Endothelial dysfunction in small resistance arteries has been suggested to initiate long before changes in conduit arteries. In this study, we address early changes in endothelial function of atherosclerosis prone rats. Male ApoE knockout (KO) rats (11- to 13-weeks-old) were subjected to either a Western or standard diet. The diet intervention continued for a period of 20-24 weeks. Endothelial function of pulmonary and mesenteric arteries was examined in vitro using an isometric myograph. We found that Western diet decreased the contribution of cyclooxygenase (COX) to control the vascular tone of both pulmonary and mesenteric arteries. These changes were associated with early stage atherosclerosis and elevated level of plasma total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride in ApoE KO rats. Chondroid-transformed smooth muscle cells, calcifications, macrophages accumulation and foam cells were also observed in the aortic arch from ApoE KO rats fed Western diet. The ApoE KO rats are a new model to study endothelial dysfunction during the earlier stages of atherosclerosis and could help us improve preclinical drug development.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Studies in humans support a role for the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis in the development of inflammatory atherosclerosis. The goal of this study was to determine if P. gingivalis infection accelerates inflammation and atherosclerosis in the innominate artery of mice, an artery which has been reported to exhibit many features of human atherosclerotic disease, including plaque rupture. METHODS AND RESULTS:Apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice were orally infected with P. gingivalis, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to monitor the progression of atherosclerosis in live mice. P. gingivalis infected mice exhibited a statistically significant increase in atherosclerotic plaque in the innominate artery as compared to uninfected mice. Polarized light microscopy and immunohistochemistry revealed that the innominate arteries of infected mice had increased lipids, macrophages and T cells as compared to uninfected mice. Increases in plaque, total cholesterol esters and cholesterol monohydrate crystals, macrophages, and T cells were prevented by immunization with heat-killed P. gingivalis prior to pathogen exposure. CONCLUSIONS:These are the first studies to demonstrate progression of inflammatory plaque accumulation in the innominate arteries by in vivo MRI analysis following pathogen exposure, and to document protection from plaque progression in the innominate artery via immunization.
Project description:Atherosclerosis appears to have multifactorial causes - microbial component like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and other pathogen associated molecular patterns may be plausible factors. The gut microbiota is an ample source of such stimulants, and its dependent metabolites and altered gut metagenome has been an established link to atherosclerosis. In this exploratory pilot study, we aimed to elucidate whether microbial intervention with probiotics L. rhamnosus GG (LGG) or pharmaceuticals telmisartan (TLM) could improve atherosclerosis in a gut microbiota associated manner.Atherosclerotic phenotype was established by 12 weeks feeding of high fat (HF) diet as opposed to normal chow diet (ND) in apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE-/-) mice. LGG or TLM supplementation to HF diet was studied.Both LGG and TLM significantly reduced atherosclerotic plaque size and improved various biomarkers including endotoxin to different extents. Colonial microbiota analysis revealed that TLM restored HF diet induced increase in Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio and decrease in alpha diversity; and led to a more distinct microbial clustering closer to ND in PCoA plot. Eubacteria, Anaeroplasma, Roseburia, Oscillospira and Dehalobacteria appeared to be protective against atherosclerosis and showed significant negative correlation with atherosclerotic plaque size and plasma adipocyte - fatty acid binding protein (A-FABP) and cholesterol.LGG and TLM improved atherosclerosis with TLM having a more distinct alteration in the colonic gut microbiota. Altered bacteria genera and reduced alpha diversity had significant correlations to atherosclerotic plaque size, plasma A-FABP and cholesterol. Future studies on such bacterial functional influence in lipid metabolism will be warranted.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Atherosclerotic plaque formation results from chronic inflammation and fibroproliferative remodeling in the vascular wall. We previously demonstrated that both human and mouse atherosclerotic plaques show elevated expression of EphA2, a guidance molecule involved in cell-cell interactions and tumorigenesis. METHODS:Here, we assessed the role of EphA2 in atherosclerosis by deleting EphA2 in a mouse model of atherosclerosis (Apoe-/-) and by assessing EphA2 function in multiple vascular cell culture models. After 8 to 16 weeks on a Western diet, male and female mice were assessed for atherosclerotic burden in the large vessels, and plasma lipid levels were analyzed. RESULTS:Despite enhanced weight gain and plasma lipid levels compared with Apoe-/- controls, EphA2-/-Apoe-/- knockout mice show diminished atherosclerotic plaque formation, characterized by reduced proinflammatory gene expression and plaque macrophage content. Although plaque macrophages express EphA2, EphA2 deletion does not affect macrophage phenotype, inflammatory responses, and lipid uptake, and bone marrow chimeras suggest that hematopoietic EphA2 deletion does not affect plaque formation. In contrast, endothelial EphA2 knockdown significantly reduces monocyte firm adhesion under flow. In addition, EphA2-/-Apoe-/- mice show reduced progression to advanced atherosclerotic plaques with diminished smooth muscle and collagen content. Consistent with this phenotype, EphA2 shows enhanced expression after smooth muscle transition to a synthetic phenotype, and EphA2 depletion reduces smooth muscle proliferation, mitogenic signaling, and extracellular matrix deposition both in atherosclerotic plaques and in vascular smooth muscle cells in culture. CONCLUSIONS:Together, these data identify a novel role for EphA2 in atherosclerosis, regulating both plaque inflammation and progression to advanced atherosclerotic lesions. Cell culture studies suggest that endothelial EphA2 contributes to atherosclerotic inflammation by promoting monocyte firm adhesion, whereas smooth muscle EphA2 expression may regulate the progression to advanced atherosclerosis by regulating smooth muscle proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition.
Project description:Vascular disease states are associated with endothelial dysfunction and increased production of reactive oxygen species derived from NADPH oxidases. However, it remains unclear whether a primary increase in superoxide production specifically in the endothelium alters the initiation or progression of atherosclerosis.Mice overexpressing Nox2 specifically in the endothelium (Nox2-Tg) were crossed with ApoE(-/-) mice to produce Nox2-Tg ApoE(-/-) mice and ApoE(-/-) littermates. Endothelial overexpression of Nox2 in ApoE(-/-) mice did not alter blood pressure, but significantly increased vascular superoxide production compared with ApoE(-/-) littermates, measured using both lucigenin chemiluminescence and 2-hydroxyethidium production (ApoE(-/-), 19.9 ± 6.3 vs. Nox2-Tg ApoE(-/-), 47.0 ± 7.0 nmol 2-hydroxyethidium/aorta, P< 0.05). Increased endothelial superoxide production increased endothelial levels of vascular cell adhesion protein 1 and enhanced macrophage recruitment in early lesions in the aortic roots of 9-week-old mice, indicating increased atherosclerotic plaque initiation. However, endothelial-specific Nox2 overexpression did not alter native or angiotensin II-driven atherosclerosis in either the aortic root or the descending aorta.Endothelial-targeted Nox2 overexpression in ApoE(-/-) mice is sufficient to increase vascular superoxide production and increase macrophage recruitment possible via activation of endothelial cells. However, this initial increase in macrophage recruitment did not alter the progression of atherosclerosis. These results indicate that Nox-mediated reactive oxygen species signalling has important cell-specific and distinct temporal roles in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.
Project description:Accumulating evidence implicates a fundamental link between the immune system and atherosclerosis. Toll-like receptors are principal sensors of the innate immune system. Here we report an assessment of the role of the TLR2 pathway in atherosclerosis associated with a high-fat diet and/or bacteria in ApoE(+/-) mice.To explore the role of TLR2 in inflammation- and infection-associated atherosclerosis, 10 week-old ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+), ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/-) and ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(-/-) mice were fed either a high fat diet or a regular chow diet. All mice were inoculated intravenously, once per week for 24 consecutive weeks, with 50 microl live Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.g) (10(7) CFU) or vehicle (normal saline). Animals were euthanized 24 weeks after the first inoculation. ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+) mice showed a significant increase in atheromatous lesions in proximal aorta and aortic tree compared to ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/-) and ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(-/-) mice for all diet conditions. They also displayed profound changes in plaque composition, as evidenced by increased macrophage infiltration and apoptosis, increased lipid content, and decreased smooth muscle cell mass, all reflecting an unstable plaque phenotype. SAA levels from ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+) mice were significantly higher than from ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/-) and ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(-/-) mice. Serum cytokine analysis revealed increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+) mice compared to ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/-) and TLR2(-/-) mice, irrespective of diet or bacterial challenge. ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+) mice injected weekly for 24 weeks with FSL-1 (a TLR2 agonist) also demonstrated significant increases in atherosclerotic lesions, SAA and serum cytokine levels compared to ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(-/-) mice under same treatment condition. Finally, mass-spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) of aortic samples analyzed by 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis differential display, identified 6 proteins upregulated greater than 2-fold in ApoE(+/-)-TLR2(+/+) mice fed the high fat diet and inoculated with P.g compared to any other group.Genetic deficiency of TLR2 reduces diet- and/or pathogen-associated atherosclerosis in ApoE(+/-) mice, along with differences in plaque composition suggesting greater structural stability while TLR-2 ligand-specific activation triggers atherosclerosis. The present data offers new insights into the pathophysiological pathways involved in atherosclerosis and paves the way for new pharmacological interventions aimed at reducing atherosclerosis.
Project description:Loss of insulin action in the endothelium can cause endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. Hyperglycemia and elevated fatty acids induced by diabetes mellitus can activate protein kinase C-? isoforms and selectively inhibit insulin signaling via phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway to inhibit the activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and metabolic actions.To demonstrate that overexpressing protein kinase C-?2 isoform in endothelial cells can cause selective insulin resistance and exacerbate atherosclerosis in the aorta.Protein kinase C-?2 isoform was overexpressed in endothelial cells using a promoter of vascular endothelial cell cadherin. These mice were cross-bred with apoE-/- mice [Tg (Prkcb)apoE-/-]. On a Western diet, Tg(Prkcb)apoE-/- and apoE-/- mice did not differ in systemic insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, plasma lipid, or blood pressure. Insulin action in endothelial cells and femoral artery from Tg(Prkcb)apoE-/- mice was impaired by ?40% with respect to Akt/endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation, and leukocyte-endothelial cell binding increased in cultured lung endothelial cells from Tg(Prkcb)apoE-/- mice compared with that from apoE-/- mice. Basal and angiotensin-stimulated big endothelin-1 levels were elevated in Tg(Prkcb)apoE-/- mice compared with apoE-/- mice. The severity of atherosclerosis in the aorta from Tg(Prkcb)apoE-/- mice increased by ?70% as measured by en face fat staining and plaque content of the number of smooth muscle cells, macrophages, and extracellular matrix.Specific protein kinase C-?2 activation in the endothelial cells caused dysfunction and accelerated atherosclerosis because of loss of insulin-stimulated Akt/endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation and angiotensin-induced increases in endothelin-1 expression.
Project description:Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is beneficial in myocardial infarction and hind limb ischemia, but its ability to ameliorate atherosclerosis remains unknown. Here, the effects of MSCs on inhibiting endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis were investigated in human/mouse endothelial cells treated with oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) and in apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE-/-) mice fed a high-fat diet. Treatment with oxLDL inactivated the Akt/endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) pathway, induced eNOS degradation, and inhibited nitric oxide (NO) production in endothelial cells. Coculture with human MSCs reversed the effects of oxLDL on endothelial cells and restored Akt/eNOS activity, eNOS level, and NO production. Reduction of endothelium-dependent relaxation and subsequent plaque formation were developed in apoE-/- mice fed a high-fat diet. Systemic infusion with mouse MSCs ameliorated endothelial dysfunction and plaque formation in high-fat diet-fed apoE-/- mice. Interestingly, treatment with interleukin-8 (IL8)/macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) alone induced the similar effects of human/mouse MSCs on oxLDL-treated human/mouse endothelial cells. Neutralization antibodies (Abs) against IL8/MIP-2 also blocked the effects of human/mouse MSCs on oxLDL-treated human/mouse endothelial cells. Consistently, MIP-2 injection alone induced the similar effect of MSCs on the endothelial function in high-fat diet-fed apoE-/- mice. The improvement in endothelial dysfunction by mouse MSCs was also blocked when pretreating MSCs with anti-MIP-2 Abs. In conclusion, MSC transplantation improved endothelial function and plaque formation in high-fat diet-fed apoE-/- mice. Activation of the Akt/eNOS pathway in endothelium by IL8/MIP-2 is involved in the protective effect of MSCs. The study helps support the use and clarify the mechanism of MSCs for ameliorating atherosclerosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The p38? Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) regulates stress- and inflammation-induced cellular responses. Factors implicated in the development of atherosclerosis including modified low-density lipoprotein (LDL), cytokines and even shear stress induce p38 activation in endothelial cells and macrophages, which may be important for plaque formation. This study investigates the effects of endothelial- and macrophage-specific deficiency of p38? in atherosclerosis development, in Apolipoprotein E deficient (ApoE(-/-)) mice. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: ApoE(-/-) mice with macrophage or endothelial cell-specific p38? deficiency were fed a high cholesterol diet (HCD) for 10 weeks and atherosclerosis development was assessed by histological and molecular methods. Surprisingly, although p38?-deficiency strongly attenuated oxidized LDL-induced expression of molecules responsible for monocyte recruitment in endothelial cell cultures in vitro, endothelial-specific p38? ablation in vivo did not affect atherosclerosis development. Similarly, macrophage specific deletion of p38? did not affect atherosclerotic plaque development in ApoE(-/-) mice. CONCLUSIONS: Although previous studies implicated p38? signaling in atherosclerosis, our in vivo experiments suggest that p38? function in endothelial cells and macrophages does not play an important role in atherosclerotic plaque formation in ApoE deficient mice.