Abstract 3758: Preventive Effects of Heregulin-Beta1 on Macrophage Foam Cell Formation and Atherosclerosis
Human heregulins, neuregulin-1 type I polypeptides known to activate proliferation, differentiation, and survival of glial cells, neurons, and myocytes, were recently found to be expressed in macrophage foam cells within human coronary atherosclerotic lesions. Macrophage foam cell formation, characterized by cholesterol ester (CE) accumulation, is modulated by scavenger receptor class A (SR-A), acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase-1 (ACAT1), and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1). The present study clarified the functional roles of heregulins in macrophage foam cell formation and atherosclerosis. Plasma heregulin-beta1 levels were significantly decreased in 31 patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and 33 patients with stable angina pectoris as compared with 34 mild hypertensive patients and 40 healthy volunteers (1.3+/−0.3, 2.0+/−0.4 versus 7.6+/−1.4, 8.2+/−1.2 ng/mL; at least P < 0.01). Immunoreactive heregulins and these receptor c-erbB3 were detectable within human coronary atherothrombosis obtained from ACS patients. In primary cultured human monocyte-macrophages, the expression of endogenous heregulins, heregulin-beta1, and c-erbB3 increased during monocytic differentiation into macrophages. In human macrophages differentiated by 7-day culture, exogenous heregulin-beta1, but not heregulin-alpha, significantly reduced acetylated low-density lipoprotein (acLDL)-induced CE accumulation by reducing SR-A and ACAT1 expression and by increasing ABCA1 expression at both mRNA and protein levels. Heregulin-beta1 significantly decreased endocytic uptake of [125I]acLDL and increased cholesterol efflux by apolipoprotein A1 from human macrophages. Chronic infusion of heregulin-beta1 by osmotic mini-pumps into apolipoprotein E-deficient mice significantly suppressed the progression of macrophage-driven atherosclerotic lesions by 64%. Our study provides the first evidence that heregulin-beta1 may participate in anti-atherogenesis by suppressing macrophage foam cell formation via SR-A and ACAT1 down-regulation and ABCA1 up-regulation.