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Int J Mol Med. 2017 Aug;40(2):558-568. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2017.3034. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Macrophage-derived foam cells impair endothelial barrier function by inducing endothelial-mesenchymal transition via CCL-4.

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Department of Cardiology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510120, P.R. China.
Department of Cardiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi 330006, P.R. China.
Department of Anesthesiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510120, P.R. China.
Laboratory of RNA and Major Disease of Heart and Brain, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510120, P.R. China.


Recently, endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) has been demonstrated to play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis, the molecular mechanisms of which remain unclear. In the present study, scanning electron microscopy directly revealed a widened endothelial space and immunohistofluorescence demonstrated that EndMT was increased in human aorta atherosclerotic plaques. M1 macrophage-derived foam cell (M1-FC) supernatants, but not M2 macrophage-derived foam cell (M2-FC) supernatants, induced EndMT. A protein array and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay identified that the levels of several cytokines, including C-C motif chemokine ligand 4 (CCL-4) were increased in M1-FC supernatants, in which EndMT was promoted, accompanied by increased endothelial permeability and monocyte adhesion. Furthermore, anti-CCL-4 antibody abolished the effects of M1-FC supernatants on EndMT. At the same time, CCL-4 activated its receptor, C-C motif chemokine receptor-5 (CCR-5), and upregulated transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) expression. Further experiments revealed that EndMT induced by CCL-4 was reversed by treatment with CCR-5 antagonist and the RNA-mediated knockdown of TGF-β. On the whole, the data of the present study suggest that M1-FCs induce EndMT by upregulating CCL-4, and increase endothelial permeability and monocyte adhesion. These data may help to elucidate the important role of EndMT in the development of atherosclerosis.

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