Smooth Muscle Cells Contribute the Majority of Foam Cells in ApoE (Apolipoprotein E)-Deficient Mouse Atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology Wang, Y., Dubland, J. A., Allahverdian, S., Asonye, E., Sahin, B., Jaw, J. E., Sin, D. D., Seidman, M. A., Leeper, N. J., Francis, G. A. 2019; 39 (5): 876-887


Objective- Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are the most abundant cells in human atherosclerotic lesions and are suggested to contribute at least 50% of atheroma foam cells. In mice, SMCs contribute fewer total lesional cells. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of SMCs to total foam cells in apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice, and the utility of these mice to model human SMC foam cell biology and interventions. Approach and Results- Using flow cytometry, foam cells in the aortic arch of ApoE-/- mice were characterized based on the expression of leukocyte-specific markers. Nonleukocyte foam cells increased from 37% of total foam cells in 27-week-old to 75% in 57-week-old male ApoE-/- mice fed a chow diet and were ˜70% in male and female ApoE-/- mice following 6 weeks of Western diet feeding. A similar contribution to total foam cells by SMCs was found using SMC-lineage tracing ApoE-/- mice fed the Western diet for 6 or 12 weeks. Nonleukocyte foam cells contributed a similar percentage of total atheroma cholesterol and exhibited lower expression of the cholesterol exporter ABCA1 (ATP-binding cassette transporter A1) when compared with leukocyte-derived foam cells. Conclusions- Consistent with previous studies of human atheromas, we present evidence that SMCs contribute the majority of atheroma foam cells in ApoE-/- mice fed a Western diet and a chow diet for longer periods. Reduced expression of ABCA1, also seen in human intimal SMCs, suggests a common mechanism for formation of SMC foam cells across species, and represents a novel target to enhance atherosclerosis regression.

View details for DOI 10.1161/ATVBAHA.119.312434

View details for PubMedID 30786740