Silencing ferritin alleviates atherosclerosis in mice via regulating the expression levels of matrix metalloproteinases and interleukins
This study was conducted to investigate the roles of ferritin in atherosclerosis. The mouse model of atherosclerosis was established by feeding ApoE knockout mice with a high-fat diet. The mice were then treated with ferritin-overexpressing and -silencing constructs, and assessed for interleukins (ILs) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) levels using ELISA and Western blot analysis. After being fed with a high-fat diet, the ApoE knockout mice developed pro-atherogenic lipid profiles with elevated total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). They also showed increased atherosclerotic lesions including narrowed lumen diameter, reduced lumen area, and increased plaque size. Following injection of the overexpression and silencing constructs, mRNA levels of ferritin were increased and decreased, respectively, and at the same time the atherosclerotic lesions were aggravated and alleviated, respectively. Further analysis indicated that silencing of ferritin gene reduced IL-1β and IL-10 levels while overexpressing ferritin increased them. On other hand, the TNF-α levels showed an opposite trend. MMP8, MMP12 and MMP13 levels were increased or decreased significantly after the mice were injected with ferritin over-expression or silencing vectors, respectively. Western blot analysis showed that compared to the control, overexpressing ferritin resulted in increased expression of p-JNK while silencing ferritin decreased the expression. Meanwhile, the levels of pc-Jun remained unchanged. Our work demonstrates that ferritin can regulate the progress of atherosclerosis via regulating the expression levels of MMPs and interleukins. Silencing ferritin inhibits the development of atherosclerosis and is, therefore, worth being further investigated as a potential therapeutic approach for this disease.
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