Macrophage iron retention aggravates atherosclerosis: Evidence for the role of autocrine formation of hepcidin in plaque macrophages.

Affiliation

Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China; Hubei Key Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China; Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Environment, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Iron accumulation has been frequently found in atherosclerotic lesions, especially in macrophages/foam cells, but the exact mechanisms by which hepcidin induces iron retention in plaque macrophages and its roles in atherogenesis remain unknown. Double immunofluorescence staining showed colocalization of hepcidin-positive macrophages with ox-LDL, TLR4, p-p65 and ferritin light chain (ferritin-L) both in human and murine atherosclerotic lesions. RAW264.7 macrophages incubated with ox-LDL showed elevated expression of TLR4, p-p65, hepcidin, ferritin-L/H, CYP27A1, CD36, PPARγ, liver X receptor α (LXRα), and ATP binding cassette transporter A1/G1 (ABCA1/G1), as well as increased intracellular labile iron pool level and lipid accumulation. Ox-LDL-induced iron retention and lipid accumulation were aggravated by lipopolysaccharide but blocked by TAK-242, an antagonist of TLR4. Moreover, macrophage TLR4/NF-κB pathway activation and foaming triggered by ox-LDL was enhanced by ferric ammonium citrate or exogenous hepcidin but attenuated by hepcidin silencing or the use of iron chelator. Meanwhile, the addition of hepcidin stimulated CD36-mediated Dil-labeled-ox-LDL uptake and inhibited the LXRα-ABCA1/G1 pathway-dependent cholesterol efflux in macrophages, which was significantly reversed by 27-hydroxycholesterol but further exacerbated by cyclosporin A, a selective inhibitor of CYP27A1. Our study provided the evidence that iron trapped in atherosclerosis plaque macrophages contributes to cholesterol disequilibrium-initiated foam cell formation, which is provoked by the unique but largely unknown autocrine formation of hepcidin in plaque macrophages via activating the TLR4/NF-κB pathway when exposed to ox-LDL. Such findings, considering the intricate vicious cycle between macrophage hepcidin autocrine-triggered iron retention and cholesterol disequilibrium, may shed new light on the "iron hypothesis" of atherosclerosis.

Keywords

Atherosclerosis,Cholesterol,Hepcidin,Iron,Macrophages,

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