Saturated Fatty Acid Palmitate Aggravates Neointima Formation by Promoting Smooth Muscle Phenotypic Modulation
Objective—Obesity is a major risk factor of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Circulating free fatty acid levels are known to be elevated in obese individuals and, along with dietary saturated fatty acids, are known to associate with cardiovascular events. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms by which free fatty acids are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Approach and Results—We found that administration of palmitate, a major saturated free fatty acid, to mice markedly aggravated neointima formation induced by carotid artery ligation and that the neointima primarily consisted of phenotypically modulated smooth muscle cells (SMCs). In cultured SMCs, palmitate-induced phenotypic modulation was characterized by downregulation of SMC differentiation markers, such as SM α-actin and SM-myosin heavy chain, and upregulation of mediators involved in inflammation and remodeling of the vessel wall, such as platelet-derived growth factor B and matrix metalloproteinases. We also found that palmitate induced the expression of proinflammatory genes via a novel toll-like receptor 4/MyD88/nuclear factor-κB/NOX1/reactive oxygen species signaling pathway: nuclear factor-κB was activated by palmitate via toll-like receptor 4 and its adapter, MyD88, and once active, it transactivated Nox1, encoding NADPH oxidase 1, a major reactive oxygen species generator in SMCs. Pharmacological inhibition and small interfering RNA–mediated knockdown of the components of this signaling pathway mitigated the palmitate-induced upregulation of proinflammatory genes. More importantly, Myd88 knockout mice were resistant to palmitate-induced exacerbation of neointima formation.
Conclusions—Palmitate seems to promote neointima formation by inducing inflammatory phenotypes in SMCs.
- Received April 18, 2012.
- Accepted August 8, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.