Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-Prolyl 4-Hydroxylase-2 Inhibition Protects Against Development of Atherosclerosis
Objective—Small-molecule hypoxia-inducible factor-prolyl 4-hydroxylase (HIF-P4H) inhibitors are being explored in clinical studies for the treatment of anemia. HIF-P4H-2 (also known as PHD2 or EglN1) inhibition improves glucose and lipid metabolism and protects against obesity and metabolic dysfunction. We studied here whether HIF-P4H-2 inhibition could also protect against atherosclerosis.
Approach and Results—Atherosclerosis development was studied in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor–deficient mice treated with an oral HIF-P4H inhibitor, FG-4497, and in HIF-P4H-2-hypomorphic/C699Y-LDL receptor–mutant mice, all mice being fed a high-fat diet. FG-4497 administration to LDL receptor–deficient mice reduced the area of atherosclerotic plaques by ≈50% when compared with vehicle-treated controls and also reduced their weight gain, insulin resistance, liver, and white adipose tissue (WAT) weights, adipocyte size, number of inflammation-associated WAT macrophage aggregates and the high-fat diet–induced increases in serum cholesterol levels. The levels of atherosclerosis-protecting circulating autoantibodies against copper-oxidized LDL were increased. The decrease in atherosclerotic plaque areas correlated with the reductions in weight, serum cholesterol levels, and WAT macrophage aggregates and the autoantibody increase. FG-4497 treatment stabilized HIF-1α and HIF-2α and altered the expression of glucose and lipid metabolism and inflammation-associated genes in liver and WAT. The HIF-P4H-2-hypomorphic/C699Y-LDL receptor–mutant mice likewise had a ≈50% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque areas, reduced WAT macrophage aggregate numbers, and increased autoantibodies against oxidized LDL, but did not have reduced serum cholesterol levels.
Conclusions—HIF-P4H-2 inhibition may be a novel strategy for protecting against the development of atherosclerosis. The mechanisms involve beneficial modulation of the serum lipid profile and innate immune system and reduced inflammation.
- Received January 4, 2016.
- Accepted January 25, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.