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Circulation. 2003 Jan 28;107(3):388-90.

Protective role of uncoupling protein 2 in atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, INSERM U541, and Université Paris VII, Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France.



Uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) regulates the production of reactive oxygen species in macrophages. However, its role in atherosclerosis is unknown.


Irradiated low-density lipoprotein receptor deficient mice (LDLR-/-) were transplanted with bone marrow from either UCP2 deficient mice (Ucp2-/-) or wild type mice (Ucp2+/+). Mice were fed an atherogenic diet for 7 weeks. Engraftment of bone marrow cells was confirmed by the presence of UCP2 protein expression in spleen cell mitochondria of Ucp2+/+ transplanted mice and its absence in Ucp2-/- transplanted mice. Leukocyte counts and plasma cholesterol levels were comparable in both groups. We found a marked increase in atherosclerotic lesion size in the thoracic aorta of Ucp2-/- transplanted mice compared with control Ucp2+/+ transplanted mice (8.3+/-0.9% versus 4.3+/-0.4%, respectively; P<0.005), as well as in the aortic sinus (150 066+/-12 388 microm2 versus 105 689+/-9 727 microm2, respectively; P<0.05). This was associated with increased nitrotyrosine staining, which suggests enhanced oxidative stress. Analysis of plaque composition revealed a significant increase in macrophage accumulation (P<0.05) and apoptosis (P<0.05), along with a decrease in collagen content (P<0.05), suggesting a potentially more vulnerable phenotype.


These results suggest a protective role for UCP2 against atherosclerosis.

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