Theranostics 2018; 8(18):4969-4984. doi:10.7150/thno.26193

Research Paper

Sonodynamic therapy-induced foam cells apoptosis activates the phagocytic PPARγ-LXRα-ABCA1/ABCG1 pathway and promotes cholesterol efflux in advanced plaque

Huan Wang1#, Yang Yang1,2#, Xin Sun1, Fang Tian1, Shuyuan Guo1,2, Wei Wang1,2, Zhen Tian3, Hong Jin4, Zhiguo Zhang5, Ye Tian1,2,3 ✉

1. Department of Cardiology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Cardiovascular Institute, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150001, P. R. China.
2. Heilongjiang Academy of Medical Sciences, Harbin, 150001, P. R. China.
3. Department of Pathophysiology and the Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Pathophysiology, Harbin Medical University, the Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Medicine Research (Harbin Medical University), Ministry of Education, Harbin, 150086, P. R. China.
4. Karolinska Institute, Department of Medicine, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.
5. Laboratory of Photo- and Sono-theranostic Technologies and Condensed Matter Science and Technology Institute, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, 150080, P. R. China.
#these authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

In advanced atherosclerotic plaques, defective efferocytosis of apoptotic foam cells and decreased cholesterol efflux contribute to lesion progression. In our previous study, we demonstrated that 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)-mediated sonodynamic therapy (SDT) could induce foam cells apoptosis via the mitochondrial-caspase pathway. In the current research, we sought to explore ALA-SDT-induced apoptosis of phagocytes and the effects of cholesterol efflux and efferocytosis in advanced apoE-/- mice plaque.

Methods: apoE-/- mice fed western diet were treated with ALA-SDT and sacrificed at day 1, day 3, day 7 and day 28 post treatment. THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells were treated with ALA-SDT. 5 hours later, the supernatant was collected and added to fresh foam cells (phagocytes). Then, the lipid area, efferocytosis, cholesterol efflux, anti-inflammatory reactions and PPARγ-LXRα-ABCA1/ABCG1 pathway were detected in plaque in vivo and in phagocytes in vitro.

Results: We found that ALA-SDT induced foam cells apoptosis coupled with efferocytosis and upregulation of Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK) both in vivo and in vitro. The lipid content in plaque decreased as early as 1 day after ALA-SDT and this tendency persisted until 28 days. The enhancement of phagocytes cholesterol efflux was accompanied by an approximately 40% decrease in free cholesterol and a 24% decrease in total cholesterol in vitro. More importantly, anti-inflammatory factors such as TGFβ and IL-10 were upregulated by ALA-SDT treatment. Finally, we found that PPARγ-LXRα-ABCA1/ABCG1 pathway was activated both in vivo and in vitro by ALA-SDT, which could be blocked by PPARγ siRNA.

Conclusions: Activation of PPARγ-LXRα-ABCA1/ABCG1 pathway induced by ALA-SDT treatment engages a virtuous cycle that enhances efferocytosis, cholesterol efflux and anti-inflammatory reactions in advanced plaque in vivo and in phagocytes in vitro.

Keywords: atherosclerosis, foam cells, sonodynamic therapy, phagocyte, cholesterol efflux

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How to cite this article:
Wang H, Yang Y, Sun X, Tian F, Guo S, Wang W, Tian Z, Jin H, Zhang Z, Tian Y. Sonodynamic therapy-induced foam cells apoptosis activates the phagocytic PPARγ-LXRα-ABCA1/ABCG1 pathway and promotes cholesterol efflux in advanced plaque. Theranostics 2018; 8(18):4969-4984. doi:10.7150/thno.26193. Available from http://www.thno.org/v08p4969.htm