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Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019 Jul 30;13:2619-2632. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S209598. eCollection 2019.

Role of heat shock protein 22 in the protective effect of geranylgeranylacetone in response to oxidized-LDL.

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Department of Cardiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, People's Republic of China.
Department of Cardiology, Baoan Central Hospital of Shenzhen, Shenzhen, People's Republic of China.



The aim was to investigate the role and potential mechanism of geranylgeranylacetone (GGA) in the development of atherosclerosis, and to explore the role of heat shock protein 22 (HSP22) in mediating GGA effect.


Human coronary artery endothelial cell (HCAEC) was used for in vitro study. RNA interference was applied to suppress HSP22 in the cells. Cellular apoptosis and intracellular level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were detected by flow cytometer, and proteins of HSP22, NF-κB, eNOS, and ICAM-1 were assessed by immunoblotting. HSP22-/-//ApoE-/-, and HSP22+/+//ApoE-/- mice were used to investigate the effect of GGA in the animal model of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerotic lesion of the mice aortas was evaluated by Oil Red O staining and H&E staining.


GGA significantly inhibited HCAEC apoptosis in response to oxidized-LDL (ox-LDL), but stimulated HSP22 synthesis in the cells. Transfection of HSP22-siRNA in the cells resulted in complete blockage of the GGA effect on apoptosis. GGA also significantly inhibited ROS, NF-κB, and ICAM-1 in the cells transfected control siRNA, but not in the cells transfected with HSP22-siRNA. Atherosclerotic plaque in the aorta was significantly less in the wild type (WT) animals treated with GGA as stained either by Oil Red O or by H&E staining, but not in the HSP22-KO mice. GGA significantly inhibited expression of NF-κB and ICAM-1 in the WT mice, but not in the HSP22-KO mice.


GGA-induced HSP22, and inhibited ox-LDL-induced apoptosis as well as expression of NF-κB and ICAM-1 in the HCAECs. GGA also attenuated formation of atherosclerotic plaques in mice aorta. Suppression of HSP22 by siRNA resulted in blockage of the GGA inhibition on apoptosis or stimulation on NF-κB and ICAM-1. These findings suggested that GGA protects endothelial cells from injury in response to ox-LDL and block atherosclerotic development in mice aorta through induction of HSP22.


atherosclerosis; endothelial cells; geranylgeranylacetone (GGA); heat shock protein 22 (HSP22); inflammatory response

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests in this work.

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