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Nrf2 is essential for cholesterol crystal-induced inflammasome activation and exacerbation of atherosclerosis


Freigang, S; Ampenberger, F; Spohn, G; Heer, S; Shamshiev, A T; Kisielow, J; Hersberger, M; Yamamoto, M; Bachmann, M F; Kopf, M (2011). Nrf2 is essential for cholesterol crystal-induced inflammasome activation and exacerbation of atherosclerosis. European Journal of Immunology, 41(7):2040-2051.

Abstract

Oxidative stress and inflammation--two components of the natural host response to injury--constitute important etiologic factors in atherogenesis. The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1 significantly enhances atherosclerosis, however, the molecular mechanisms of IL-1 induction within the artery wall remain poorly understood. Here we have identified the oxidative stress-responsive transcription factor NF-E2-related 2 (Nrf2) as an essential positive regulator of inflammasome activation and IL-1-mediated vascular inflammation. We show that cholesterol crystals, which accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques, represent an endogenous danger signal that activates Nrf2 and the NLRP3 inflammasome. The resulting vigorous IL-1 response critically depended on expression of Nrf2, and Nrf2-deficient apolipoprotein E (Apoe)-/- mice were highly protected against diet-induced atherogenesis. Importantly, therapeutic neutralization of IL-1α and IL-1β reduced atherosclerosis in Nrf2+/- Apoe-/- but not in Nrf2-/- Apoe-/- mice, suggesting that the pro-atherogenic effect of Nrf2-signaling was primarily mediated by its permissive role in IL-1 production. Our studies demonstrate a role for Nrf2 in inflammasome activation, and identify cholesterol crystals as disease-relevant triggers of the NLRP3 inflammasome and potent pro-atherogenic cytokine responses. These findings suggest a common pathway through which oxidative stress and metabolic danger signals converge and mutually perpetuate the chronic vascular inflammation that drives atherosclerosis.

Abstract

Oxidative stress and inflammation--two components of the natural host response to injury--constitute important etiologic factors in atherogenesis. The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1 significantly enhances atherosclerosis, however, the molecular mechanisms of IL-1 induction within the artery wall remain poorly understood. Here we have identified the oxidative stress-responsive transcription factor NF-E2-related 2 (Nrf2) as an essential positive regulator of inflammasome activation and IL-1-mediated vascular inflammation. We show that cholesterol crystals, which accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques, represent an endogenous danger signal that activates Nrf2 and the NLRP3 inflammasome. The resulting vigorous IL-1 response critically depended on expression of Nrf2, and Nrf2-deficient apolipoprotein E (Apoe)-/- mice were highly protected against diet-induced atherogenesis. Importantly, therapeutic neutralization of IL-1α and IL-1β reduced atherosclerosis in Nrf2+/- Apoe-/- but not in Nrf2-/- Apoe-/- mice, suggesting that the pro-atherogenic effect of Nrf2-signaling was primarily mediated by its permissive role in IL-1 production. Our studies demonstrate a role for Nrf2 in inflammasome activation, and identify cholesterol crystals as disease-relevant triggers of the NLRP3 inflammasome and potent pro-atherogenic cytokine responses. These findings suggest a common pathway through which oxidative stress and metabolic danger signals converge and mutually perpetuate the chronic vascular inflammation that drives atherosclerosis.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Immunology, Immunology and Allergy
Language:English
Date:July 2011
Deposited On:02 Feb 2012 21:41
Last Modified:21 Sep 2018 07:35
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0014-2980 (P) 1521-4141 (E)
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/eji.201041316
PubMed ID:21484785

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