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J Am Heart Assoc. 2012 Aug;1(4):e003079. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.003079. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Novel Therapy for Atherosclerosis Using Recombinant Immunotoxin Against Folate Receptor β-Expressing Macrophages.

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Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, and Metabolic Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan (Y.F., M.M., Y.A., N.H., T. Miyauchi, Y.I., T.S., K.I., C.T.).



Folate receptor β (FRβ) is induced during macrophage activation. A recombinant immunotoxin consisting of the truncated Pseudomonas exotoxin A (PE38) conjugated to an anti-FRβ antibody (anti-FRβ-PE38) has been reported to kill activated macrophages in inflammatory diseases. To elucidate the effect of an immunotoxin targeting FRβ on atherosclerosis, we determined the presence of FRβ-expressing macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions and administered the FRβ immunotoxin in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.


The FRβ-expressing macrophages were observed in atherosclerotic lesions of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. At 15 or 35 weeks of age, the apolipoprotein E-deficient mice were divided into 3 groups and were intravenously administered 0.1 mg/kg of anti-FRβ-PE38 (immunotoxin group), 0.1 mg/kg of PE38 (toxin group), or 0.1 mL of saline (control group) every 3 days, for a total of 5 times for each age group. The mice were analyzed at 21 or 41 weeks of age. Treatment with the immunotoxin resulted in 31% and 22% reductions in atherosclerotic lesions of the 21- and 41-week-old mice, respectively (P<0.05). Administration of immunotoxin reduced the numbers of FRβ- and tumor necrosis factor-α-expressing macrophages, reduced cell proliferation, and increased the number of apoptotic cells (P<0.05). Real-time polymerase chain reaction demonstrated that the expression of FRβ and tumor necrosis factor-α mRNA was significantly decreased in the immunotoxin group (P<0.05).


These results suggest that FRβ-expressing macrophages exist in the atherosclerotic lesions of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice and that FRβ immunotoxin administration reduces the progression of atherosclerotic lesions in younger and older individuals. The recombinant FRβ immunotoxin targeting activated macrophages could provide a novel therapeutic tool for atherosclerosis. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e003079 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.003079.).


antibodies; atherosclerosis; inflammation; plaque; receptors

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