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Plasminogen mediates the atherogenic effects of macrophage-expressed urokinase and accelerates atherosclerosis in apoE-knockout mice

By Michal Kremen, Ranjini Krishnan, Isaac Emery, Jie Hong Hu, Katherine I. Slezicki, Alyssa Wu, Kun Qian, Liang Du, Abigail Plawman, April Stempien-Otero and David A. Dichek


Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) is expressed at elevated levels in atherosclerotic human arteries, primarily in macrophages. Plasminogen (Plg), the primary physiologic substrate of uPA, is present at significant levels in blood and interstitial fluid. Both uPA and Plg have activities that could affect atherosclerosis progression. Moreover, correlations between increased Plg activation and accelerated atherosclerosis are reported in several human studies. However, a coherent picture of the role of the uPA/Plg system in atherogenesis has not yet emerged, with at least one animal study suggesting that Plg is atheroprotective. We used a transgenic mouse model of macrophage-targeted uPA overexpression in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice to investigate the roles of uPA and Plg in atherosclerosis. We found that macrophage-expressed uPA accelerated atherosclerotic plaque growth and promoted aortic root dilation through Plg-dependent pathways. These pathways appeared to affect lesion progression rather than initiation and to include actions that disproportionately increase lipid accumulation in the artery wall. In addition, loss of Plg was protective against atherosclerosis both in the presence and absence of uPA overexpression. Transgenic mice with macrophage-targeted uPA overexpression reveal atherogenic roles for both uPA and Plg and are a useful experimental setting for investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie clinically established relationships between uPA expression, Plg activation, and atherosclerosis progression

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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