Transsignaling of Interleukin-6 Crucially Contributes to Atherosclerosis in Mice
Objective—Transsignaling of interleukin (IL)-6 is a central pathway in the pathogenesis of disorders associated with chronic inflammation, such as Crohn disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory colon cancer. Notably, IL-6 also represents an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) in humans and is crucially involved in vascular inflammatory processes.
Methods and Results—In the present study, we showed that treatment with a fusion protein of the natural IL-6 transsignaling inhibitor soluble glycoprotein 130 (sgp130) and IgG1-Fc (sgp130Fc) dramatically reduced atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic Ldlr−/− mice without affecting weight gain and serum lipid levels. Moreover, sgp130Fc treatment even led to a significant regression of advanced atherosclerosis. Mechanistically, endothelial activation and intimal smooth muscle cell infiltration were decreased in sgp130Fc-treated mice, resulting in a marked reduction of monocyte recruitment and subsequent atherosclerotic plaque progression. Of note, patients with CAD exhibited significantly lower plasma levels of endogenous sgp130, suggesting that a compromised counterbalancing of IL-6 transsignaling may contribute to atherogenesis in humans.
Conclusion—These data clarify, for the first time, the critical involvement of, in particular, the transsignaling of IL-6 in CAD and warrant further investigation of sgp130Fc as a novel therapeutic for the treatment of CAD and related diseases.
- Received June 19, 2011.
- Accepted October 19, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.