BAFF Neutralization Aggravates Atherosclerosis
Background—Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) is the major cause of death globally and is caused by the buildup of a plaque in the arterial wall. Genomic data showed that the B cell activating factor receptor (BAFFR) pathway, which is specifically essential for the survival of conventional B lymphocytes (B-2 cells), is a key driver of coronary heart disease. Deletion or antibody-mediated blockade of BAFFR ablates B-2 cells and decreases experimental atherosclerosis. Anti-BAFF immunotherapy is approved for treatment of autoimmune systemic lupus erythematosus and can therefore be expected to limit their associated cardiovascular risk. However, direct effects of anti-BAFF immunotherapy on atherosclerosis remain unknown.
Methods—To investigate the effect of BAFF neutralization in atherosclerosis, we treated Apoe-/- and Ldlr-/- mice with a well-characterized blocking anti-BAFF antibody. Moreover, to investigate the mechanism by which BAFF impacts atherosclerosis, we studied atherosclerosis-prone mice that lack the alternative receptor for BAFF, transmembrane activator and CAML interactor (TACI).
Results—We demonstrate here that anti-BAFF antibody treatment increased atherosclerosis in mice, despite efficient depletion of mature B-2 cells, suggesting a unique mechanism of action. Indeed, myeloid cell specific deletion TACI, also results in increased atherosclerosis, while B cell-specific TACI deletion had no effect. Mechanistically, BAFF-TACI signaling represses macrophage IRF7-dependent (but not NF-kB dependent) TLR9 responses including proatherogenic CXCL10 production.
Conclusions—These data identify a novel B cell independent anti-inflammatory role for BAFF in atherosclerosis and may have important clinical implications.
- B cells
- B cell activating factor (BAFF)
- Transmembrane activator and CAML interactor (TACI)
- Received November 17, 2017.
- Revision received May 16, 2018.
- Accepted May 18, 2018.
Circulation is published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wolters Kluwer. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original work is properly cited.