Despite the efficacy in reducing acute rejection events in organ transplanted subjects, long term therapy with cyclosporine A is associated with increased atherosclerotic cardiovascular morbidity. We studied whether this drug affects the antiatherogenic process of the reverse cholesterol transport from macrophages in vivo. Cyclosporine A 50 mg/kg/d was administered to C57BL/6 mice by subcutaneous injection for 14 days. Macrophage reverse cholesterol transport was assessed by following [(3)H]-cholesterol mobilization from pre-labeled intraperitoneally injected macrophages, expressing or not apolipoprotein E, to plasma, liver and feces. The pharmacological treatment significantly reduced the amount of radioactive sterols in the feces, independently on the expression of apolipoprotein E in the macrophages injected into recipient mice and in absence of changes of plasma levels of high density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Gene expression analysis revealed that cyclosporine A inhibited the hepatic levels of cholesterol 7-alpha-hydroxylase, concomitantly with the increase in hepatic and intestinal expression of ATP Binding Cassette G5. However, the in vivo relevance of the last observation was challenged by the demonstration that mice treated or not with cyclosporine A showed the same levels of circulating beta-sitosterol. These results indicate that treatment of mice with cyclosporine A impaired the macrophage reverse cholesterol transport by reducing fecal sterol excretion, possibly through the inhibition of cholesterol 7-alpha-hydroxylase expression. The current observation may provide a potential mechanism for the high incidence of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease following the immunosuppressant therapy in organ transplanted recipients.
Zanotti, I., Greco, D., Lusardi, G., Zimetti, F., Potì, F., Arnaboldi, L., … Bernini, F. (2013). Cyclosporine A Impairs the Macrophage Reverse Cholesterol Transport in Mice by Reducing Sterol Fecal Excretion. PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071572