Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 2017 May 12;292(19):7888-7903. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M117.779447. Epub 2017 Mar 22.

AMP-activated protein kinase α1 promotes atherogenesis by increasing monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation.

Author information

From the Section of Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104 and.
the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30302-5035.
the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30302-5035


Monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation, which can be initiated by physiological or atherogenic factors, is a pivotal process in atherogenesis, a disorder in which monocytes adhere to endothelial cells and subsequently migrate into the subendothelial spaces, where they differentiate into macrophages and macrophage-derived foam cells and cause atherosclerotic lesions. However, the monocyte-differentiation signaling pathways that are activated by atherogenic factors are poorly defined. Here we report that the AMP-activated protein kinase α1 (AMPKα1) in monocytes promotes atherosclerosis by increasing monocyte differentiation and survival. Exposure of monocytes to oxidized low-density lipoprotein, 7-ketocholesterol, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, or macrophage colony-stimulated factor (M-CSF) significantly activated AMPK and promoted monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation. M-CSF-activated AMPK is via M-CSF receptor-dependent reactive oxygen species production. Consistently, genetic deletion of AMPKα1 or pharmacological inhibition of AMPK blunted monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation and promoted monocyte/macrophage apoptosis. Compared with apolipoprotein E knock-out (ApoE-/-) mice, which show impaired clearing of plasma lipoproteins and spontaneously develop atherosclerosis, ApoE-/-/AMPKα1-/- mice showed reduced sizes of atherosclerotic lesions and lesser numbers of macrophages in the lesions. Furthermore, aortic lesions were decreased in ApoE-/- mice transplanted with ApoE-/-/AMPKα1-/- bone marrow and in myeloid-specific AMPKα1-deficient ApoE-/- mice. Finally, rapamycin treatment, which abolished delayed monocyte differentiation in ApoE-/-/AMPKα1-/- mice, lost its atherosclerosis-lowering effects in these mice. Mechanistically, we found that AMPKα1 regulates FoxO3-dependent expression of both LC3 and ULK1, which are two important autophagy-related markers. Rapamycin treatment increased FoxO3 activity as well as LC3 and ULK1 expressions in macrophages from AMPKα1-/- mice. Our results reveal that AMPKα1 deficiency impairs autophagy-mediated monocyte differentiation and decreases monocyte/macrophage survival, which attenuates atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice in vivo.


AMP-activated kinase (AMPK); atherosclerosis; autophagy; macrophage; monocyte; monocytes

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center