Interventions on macrophages/foam cells to redirect intracellular cholesterol towards efflux pathways could become a very valuable addition to our therapeutic arsenal against atherosclerosis. However, certain manipulations of the cholesteryl ester cycle, such as the inhibition of ACAT1, an ER-resident enzyme that re-esterifies cholesterol, are not well tolerated. Previously we showed that targeting perilipin-2 (PLIN2), a major lipid droplet (LD)-associated protein in macrophages, prevents foam cell formation and protects against atherosclerosis. Here we have assessed the tolerance of PLIN2-deficient bone marrow derived macrophages (BMM) to several lipid loading conditions similar to the found during atherosclerosis development, including exposure to modified low-density lipoprotein (mLDL) and 7-ketocholesterol (7-KC), a free cholesterol (FC) metabolite, in media with or without cholesterol acceptors. BMM isolated from mice that do or do not express PLIN2 were tested for apoptosis (TUNEL and cleaved caspase-3), ER stress (CHOP induction and XBP-1 splicing), and inflammation (TNF-α and IL-6 mRNA levels). Like in other cell types, PLIN2 deficiency impairs LD buildup in BMM. However, while most stress parameters were elevated in macrophages under ACAT inhibition and 7-KC loading, PLIN2 inactivation was well tolerated. The data support the safety of targeting PLIN2 to prevent foam cell formation and atherosclerosis. © 2012 Son et al.
Son, S. H., Goo, Y. H., Chang, B. H., & Paul, A. (2012). Perilipin 2 (PLIN2)-deficiency does not increase cholesterol-induced toxicity in macrophages. PLoS ONE, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033063