Nox4 NADPH oxidase contributes to smooth muscle cell phenotypes associated with unstable atherosclerotic plaques.
Plaque instability associated with acute coronary syndromes results in part from apoptosis and senescence of cells within the atherosclerotic (AS) lesion. Increased cellular oxidative stress has been proposed to contribute to plaque progression and changes in composition, leading to plaque instability. Our objective was to examine the role of NADPH oxidase in smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotypes associated with an unstable plaque. Aortae were isolated from pre-lesion (8 weeks of age) and post-lesion (35 weeks of age) hypercholesterolemic mice (ApoE(-/-)/LDLR(-/-), AS), and age-matched normal C57BL/6J mice. We observed an age-dependent increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) in aorta from AS mice, with evidence for elevated ROS prior to lesion development. Whereas macrophage infiltration was restricted to the lesion, oxidized lipids extended beyond the plaque and into the vessel wall. Consistent with these findings, we observed dynamic changes in the expression of NADPH oxidases in AS vessels. Specifically, Nox1 expression was increased early and decreased with lesion progression, while induction of Nox4 was a late event. Nox2 and p22(phox) were elevated throughout lesion development. Similar to observations in aortae, SMCs isolated from the lesion of AS aortae had decreased Nox1 and increased Nox4 levels as compared to SMCs from normal mice. AS SMCs demonstrated increased generation of ROS, cell cycle arrest, evidence of senescence, and increased susceptibility to apoptosis. Overexpression of Nox4 in normal SMCs recapitulated the phenotypes of the AS SMCs. We conclude that increased expression of Nox4 in AS may drive SMC phenotypes that lead to the plaque instability and rupture responsible for myocardial infarction and stroke.
Xu, S; Chamseddine, AH; Carrell, S; Miller, FJ
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