Objective: Macrophage foam cell formation is an important process in atherosclerotic plaque development. The small GTPase Rheb (Ras homolog enriched in brain 1) regulates endocytic trafficking that is critical for foam cell formation. However, it is unclear whether and how macrophage Rheb regulates atherogenesis, which are the focuses of the current study. Approach and Results: Immunofluorescence study confirmed the colocalization of Rheb in F4/80 and Mac-2 (galectin-3)-labeled lesional macrophages. Western blot and fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis showed that Rheb expression was significantly increased in atherosclerotic lesions of atherosclerosis-prone (apoE-/- [apolipoprotein E deficient]) mice fed with Western diet. Increased Rheb expression was also observed in oxidized LDL (low-density lipoprotein)-treated macrophages. To investigate the in vivo role of macrophage Rheb, we established mature RhebmKO (macrophage-specific Rheb knockout) mice by crossing the Rheb floxed mice with F4/80-cre mice. Macrophage-specific knockout of Rheb in mice reduced Western diet-induced atherosclerotic lesion by 32%, accompanied with a decrease in macrophage content in plaque. Mechanistically, loss of Rheb in macrophages repressed oxidized LDL-induced lipid uptake, inflammation, and macrophage proliferation. On the contrary, lentivirus-mediated overexpression of Rheb in macrophages increased oxidized LDL-induced lipid uptake and inflammation, and the stimulatory effect of Rheb was suppressed by the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibitor rapamycin or the PKA (protein kinase A) activator forskolin. Conclusions: Macrophage Rheb plays important role in Western diet-induced atherosclerosis by promoting macrophage proliferation, inflammation, and lipid uptake. Inhibition of expression and function of Rheb in macrophages is beneficial to prevent diet-induced atherosclerosis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology|
|State||Published - Jan 8 2019|
- Foam cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine