CXCL16 and CD137 in atherosclerosis
Sammanfattning: Atherosclerosis is a progressive inflammatory disease that is characterized by the accumulation of lipids, infiltrated cells and fibrous elements in large arteries.This thesis focuses on the molecular mechanisms behind foam cell formation and inflammation, two central processes in the development of atherosclerosis. More specific, we studied the effects of proinflammatory cytokines on CXCL16 expression and its role as scavenger receptor on macrophages and smooth muscle cells in atherogenesis. CXCL16 is defined as a chemokine and a scavenger receptor, regulating adhesion and chemoattraction of CXCR6 expressing cells and uptake of oxLDL. We show that the expression of CXCL16 and its receptor CXCR6 are more pronounced in human atherosclerotic lesions compared with non-atherosclerotic vessels. Increased expression of CXCL16 was also seen in atherosclerotic aortas of apoE-/- mice compared with aortas of non-atherosclerotic, age-matched C57BL/6 mice. In vitro, IFN gamma induced CXCL16 expression in primary human monocytes and smooth muscle cells which resulted in an increased uptake of oxLDL. Treatment of mice with IFN gamma also induced CXCL16 expression in atherosclerotic lesions. Thus, we have demonstrated a role for IFN gamma in foam cell formation through upregulation of CXCL16. The expression of CXCR6 was defined to the same regions as for CXCL16 in the lesion, indicating the presence of cells able to respond to CXCL16. Consequently, CXCL16 could serve as a molecular link between lipid metabolism and immune activity in atherosclerotic lesion.CD137 belongs to the TNF family and mediates several important processes in inflammation. CD137 is involved in the activation of T cells, NK cells, B cells and monocytes and regulate cytokine production, proliferation and apoptosis in these cells. A limited number of studies have demonstrated CD137 expression on smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. Our results show that CD137 mRNA is higher expressed in human atherosclerotic lesions compared with unaffected vessels. We found that endothelial cells express CD137 in atherosclerotic lesions and that cultured endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells express CD137 and CD137 ligand in vitro. CD137 was regulated differentially by proinflammatory cytokines (i.e. IFN gamma, TNF alpha, IL-1 beta) and bacterial lipopolysaccharide depending on cell type. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of CD137 signalling, demonstrating that binding of the CD137 ligand to its receptor increases proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells.In summary, this thesis has focused on the expression, regulation and role of CXCL16 and CD137, two genes that have not been described earlier in the concept of atherosclerosis. The findings demonstrate some of the molecular mechanisms involved in vascular inflammation and may increase our knowledge about the development of atherosclerosis.
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