Membrane-Bound Thrombomodulin Regulates Macrophage Inflammation in Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Objective—Thrombomodulin (TM), a glycoprotein constitutively expressed in the endothelium, is well known for its anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. Paradoxically, we recently found that monocytic membrane-bound TM (ie, endogenous TM expression in monocytes) triggers lipopolysaccharide- and gram-negative bacteria–induced inflammatory responses. However, the significance of membrane-bound TM in chronic sterile vascular inflammation and the development of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) remains undetermined.
Approach and Results—Implicating a potential role for membrane-bound TM in AAA, we found that TM signals were predominantly localized to macrophages and vascular smooth muscle cells in human aneurysm specimens. Characterization of the CaCl2-induced AAA in mice revealed that during aneurysm development, TM expression was mainly localized in infiltrating macrophages and vascular smooth muscle cells. To investigate the function of membrane-bound TM in vivo, transgenic mice with myeloid- (LysMcre/TMflox/flox) and vascular smooth muscle cell–specific (SM22-cretg/TMflox/flox) TM ablation and their respective wild-type controls (TMflox/flox and SM22-cretg/TM+/+) were generated. In the mouse CaCl2-induced AAA model, deficiency of myeloid TM, but not vascular smooth muscle cell TM, inhibited macrophage accumulation, attenuated proinflammatory cytokine and matrix metalloproteinase-9 production, and finally mitigated elastin destruction and aortic dilatation. In vitro TM-deficient monocytes/macrophages, versus TM wild-type counterparts, exhibited attenuation of proinflammatory mediator expression, adhesion to endothelial cells, and generation of reactive oxygen species. Consistently, myeloid TM–deficient hyperlipidemic mice (ApoE−/−/LysMcre/TMflox/flox) were resistant to AAA formation induced by angiotensin II infusion, along with reduced macrophage infiltration, suppressed matrix metalloproteinase activities, and diminished oxidative stress.
Conclusions—Membrane-bound TM in macrophages plays an essential role in the development of AAA by enhancing proinflammatory mediator elaboration, macrophage recruitment, and oxidative stress.
- Received February 25, 2015.
- Accepted August 18, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.