Abstract 152: Stat4 Deficiency limits the Development and Progression of Atherosclerosis
T helper 1 (Th1) cells constitute the majority of plaque infiltrating IFNγ+ T cells and play a pro-atherogenic role. Th1 cells are induced via IFNγ-dependent activation of T-box expressed in T cells (Tbet) and/or IL-12-dependent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (Stat4). While the role of Tbet in atherosclerosis is established, the impact of the IL-12/Stat4-dependent pathway is not well defined. To address the role of Stat4 in atherosclerosis, we bred Stat4-deficient mice with Apolipoprotein E-deficient mice to generate Stat4-/-Apoe-/- mice. Deficiency of Stat4 resulted in approximately a 70% reduction in the plaque burden for 34 week old Stat4-/-Apoe-/- mice fed a chow diet and in 12 week old Stat4-/-Apoe-/- mice fed a western diet there was approximately a 40% reduction in plaque burden, both compared with diet matched Apoe-/- controls females (p<0.001). To assess the effect of Stat4 on Th1 and Treg cell differentiation, we performed an in vitro polarization assay. Deficiency of Stat4 reduced differentiation of IFNγ+ Th1 cells in Th1 conditions, but supported the induction of Tregs in Treg polarizing conditions, confirming the importance of Stat4 in regulating the Th1/Treg balance. In contrast to the in vitro results, we found no difference in the expression of both IFNγ and Foxp3 amongst Stat4-/-Apoe-/- and Apoe-/- lymph nodes and splenic CD4+ T cells; suggesting that additional cytokines in vivo may induce IFNγ+Th1 and inhibit Treg differentiation. Stat4 deficiency also resulted in increased splenic B cell numbers and a slight increase in B1a dependent T15/E06 mRNA expression. Stat4 is a powerful regulator of chemokine expression within peripheral tissues. Adoptively transferred Apoe-/- B cells and CD11b+ cells migrated more efficiently into Stat4-/-Apoe-/- aortas compared to Apoe-/- recipients. However, percentages of macrophages, as determined by CD11b+CD68+ were reduced within the spleens and aortas of Stat4-/-Apoe-/- mice as compared to Apoe-/- controls at steady state conditions. In conclusion, Stat4 deficiency results in reduced atherosclerosis via the modulation of B cell function and aortic leukocyte content.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.