We have developed a mouse model of atherosclerotic plaque regression in which an atherosclerotic aortic arch from a hyperlipidemic donor is transplanted into a normolipidemic recipient, resulting in rapid elimination of cholesterol and monocyte-derived macrophage cells (CD68+) from transplanted vessel walls. To gain a comprehensive view of the differences in gene expression patterns in macrophages associated with regressing compared with progressing atherosclerotic plaque, we compared mRNA expression patterns in CD68+ macrophages extracted from plaque in aortic aches transplanted into normolipidemic or into hyperlipidemic recipients. In CD68+ cells from regressing plaque we observed that genes associated with the contractile apparatus responsible for cellular movement (e.g. actin and myosin) were up-regulated whereas genes related to cell adhesion (e.g. cadherins, vinculin) were down-regulated. In addition, CD68+ cells from regressing plaque were characterized by enhanced expression of genes associated with an anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage phenotype, including arginase I, CD163 and the C-lectin receptor. Our analysis suggests that in regressing plaque CD68+ cells preferentially express genes that reduce cellular adhesion, enhance cellular motility, and overall act to suppress inflammation. © 2012 Feig et al.
Feig, J. E., Vengrenyuk, Y., Reiser, V., Wu, C., Statnikov, A., Aliferis, C. F., … Puig, O. (2012). Regression of Atherosclerosis is characterized by broad changes in the plaque macrophage transcriptome. PLoS ONE, 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039790