Loss of Interleukin-21 Receptor Activation in Hypoxic Endothelial Cells Impairs Perfusion Recovery After Hindlimb Ischemia
Objective—Surgical hindlimb ischemia (HLI) in mice has become a valuable preclinical model to study peripheral arterial disease. We previously identified that the different phenotypic outcomes after HLI across inbred mouse strains is related to a region on the short arm of mouse chromosome 7. The gene coding the interleukin-21 receptor (IL-21R) lies at the peak of association in this region.
Approach and Results—With quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, we found that a mouse strain with a greater ability to upregulate IL-21R after HLI had better perfusion recovery than a strain with no upregulation after HLI. Immunofluorescent staining of ischemic hindlimb tissue showed IL-21R expression on endothelial cells (ECs) from C57BL/6 mice. An EC-enriched fraction isolated from ischemic hindlimb muscle showed higher Il-21R levels than an EC-enriched fraction from nonischemic limbs. In vitro, human umbilical vein ECs showed elevated IL-21R expression after hypoxia and serum starvation. Under these conditions, IL-21 treatment increased cell viability, decreased cell apoptosis, and augmented tube formation. In vivo, either knockout Il21r or blocking IL-21 signaling by treating with IL-21R-Fc (fusion protein that blocks IL-21 binding to its receptor) in C57BL/6 mice resulted in less perfusion recovery after HLI. Both in vitro and in vivo modulation of the IL-21/IL-21R axis under hypoxic conditions resulted in increased signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 phosphorylation and a subsequent increase in the B-cell lymphoma leukemia-2/ BCL-2–associated X protein ratio.
Conclusion—Our data indicate that IL-21R upregulation and ligand activation in hypoxic ECs may help perfusion recovery by limiting/preventing apoptosis and favoring cell survival and angiogenesis through the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 pathway.
- Received September 22, 2014.
- Accepted March 10, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.