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Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Dec 3;20(23). pii: E6093. doi: 10.3390/ijms20236093.

Quercetin Suppresses the Progression of Atherosclerosis by Regulating MST1-Mediated Autophagy in ox-LDL-Induced RAW264.7 Macrophage Foam Cells.

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Shanghai Geriatric Institute of Chinese Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 365C Xiangyang South Road, Xuhui, Shanghai 200031, China.



To investigate the process by which quercetin suppresses atherosclerosis by upregulating MST1-mediated autophagy in RAW264.7 macrophages.


An in vitro foam cell model was established by culturing RAW264.7 macrophages with oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL). The cells were treated with quercetin alone or in combination with the autophagy inhibitor, 3-methyladenine, and autophagy agonist, rapamycin. Cell viability was detected with a CCK-8 kit. Lipid accumulation was detected by oil red O staining, senescence was detected by SA-β-gal (senescence-associated β-galactosidase) staining, reactive oxygen species were detected by ROS assay kit. Autophagosomes and mitochondria were detected by transmission electron microscope (TEM), and expression of MST1, LC3-II/I, Beclin1, Bcl-2, P21, and P16 were detected by immunofluorescence and Western blot.


Ox-LDL induced RAW264.7 macrophage-derived foam cell formation, reduced survival, aggravated cell lipid accumulation, and induced a senescence phenotype. This was accompanied by decreased formation of autophagosome; increased expression of P53, P21, and P16; and decreased expression of LC3-II/I and Beclin1. After intervention with quercetin, the cell survival rate was increased, and lipid accumulation and senescence phenotype were reduced. Furthermore, the expression of LC3-II/I and Beclin1 were increased, which was consistent with the ability of quercetin to promote autophagy. Ox-LDL also increased the expression of MST1, and this increase was blocked by quercetin, which provided a potential mechanism by which quercetin may protect foam cells against age-related detrimental effects.


Quercetin can inhibit the formation of foam cells induced by ox-LDL and delay senescence. The mechanism may be related to the regulation of MST1-mediated autophagy of RAW264.7 cells.


RAW264.7; atherosclerosis; autophagy; quercetin; senescence

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