Abstract 122: Ceramide Activation of Macrophage RhoA/Rho Kinase/LIM Kinase Signaling Impairs Aggregated LDL Degradation and Foam Cell Formation
Introduction: One of the initiating events in atherogenesis is the deposition of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the arterial wall. This LDL becomes modified, aggregated and retained. Macrophages form a degradative contact (a lysosomal synapse or LS) with the aggregated LDL (agLDL) through local actin polymerization. Degradation of agLDL releases free cholesterol, which is taken up by macrophages and results in foam cell formation. Characterization of proteins regulating actin polymerization that allows LS formation may identify new therapeutic targets to inhibit foam cell formation and halt the progression of atherosclerosis.
Hypothesis: Small GTPases of the Rho family such as RhoA are key regulators of actin polymerization. Further, many lipids in the micro-environment of the atherosclerotic plaque, such as ceramide, are known to modulate RhoA activity. Therefore we tested the hypothesis that RhoA is important in actin polymerization and foam cell formation in response to macrophage catabolism of agLDL and that this process can be modulated by ceramide.
Methods: We overexpressed RhoA in RAW264.7 macrophages prior to treatment with agLDL to test the role of RhoA in LS formation and foam cell formation. We used bone marrow derived macrophages (BMM) from Sphingosine Kinase 2 knockout mice (SK2 KO) as a model for macrophages loaded with long chain ceramides and wild-type BMM loaded with C2-ceramide to test the role of ceramide. We also used inhibitors of Rho Kinase ROCK and LIM Kinase to assess their role in LS formation.
Results and Conclusions: Overexpression of wild-type and constitutive active RhoA in RAW264.7 macrophages significantly impaired actin polymerization and foam cell formation in response to agLDL treatment. Using SK2KO BMM and wild-type BMM loaded with C2- ceramide, we find that macrophages loaded with ceramide display increased levels of activated RhoA. This leads to impaired actin polymerization and foam cell formation which could be rescued by RNAi mediated silencing of RhoA, inhibition of ROCK or inhibition of LIMK. In conclusion, these results suggest that RhoA/ROCK/LIMK signaling negatively regulates agLDL degradation and foam cell formation and that this process can be directly modulated by ceramide through activation of RhoA.
Author Disclosures: R.K. Singh: None. A.S. Haka: None. I. Grosheva: None. A. Brumfield: None. Y. Xiong: None. T. Hla: None. F.R. Maxfield: None.
This research has received full or partial funding support from the American Heart Association.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.