NG2 Ablation Reduces Low-Density Lipoprotein Retention of Synthetic Smooth Muscle Cells and Atherogenesis
Objectives—Obesity and hyperlipidemia are critical risk factors for atherosclerosis. Because ablation of NG2 proteoglycan in mice leads to hyperlipidemia and obesity, we investigated the impact of NG2 ablation on atherosclerosis in apoE null mice.
Approach and Results—Immunostaining indicates that NG2 expression in plaque, primarily by synthetic smooth muscle cells, increases during atherogenesis. NG2 ablation unexpectedly results in decreased (30%) plaque development, despite aggravated obesity and hyperlipidemia. Mechanistic studies reveal that NG2-positive plaque synthetic smooth muscle cells in culture can sequester low-density lipoprotein to enhance foam-cell formation, processes in which NG2 itself plays direct roles. In agreement with these observations, low-density lipoprotein retention and lipid accumulation in the NG2/ApoE knockout aorta is 30% less than that seen in the control aorta.
Conclusions—These results indicate that synthetic smooth muscle cell–dependent low-density lipoprotein retention and foam cell formation outweigh obesity and hyperlipidemia in promoting mouse atherogenesis. Our study sheds new light on the role of synthetic smooth muscle cells during atherogenesis. Blocking plaque NG2 or altering synthetic smooth muscle cells function may be promising therapeutic strategies for atherosclerosis.
- Received June 18, 2015.
- Accepted October 24, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.