Interleukin-19 (IL-19) is putative Th2, anti-inflammatory interleukin. Its expression in, and potential role in atherogenesis is unknown. IL-19 is not detected in normal artery, and is expressed to a greater degree in plaque from symptomatic vs. asymptomatic patients, suggesting a compensatory-counter regulatory function. We tested if IL-19 could reduce atherosclerosis in susceptible mice, and identified plausible mechanisms.
Approach and Results
LDLR−/− mice fed an atherogenic diet and injected with either 1.0ng/g/day or 10.0ng/g/day rmIL-19 had significantly less plaque area in the aortic arch compared with controls (p<0.0001). Weight gain, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were not significantly different. Gene expression in splenocytes from IL-19 treated mice demonstrated immune cell Th2 polarization, with decreased expression of T-bet, IFNγ, IL-1β and IL-12β, and increased expression of GATA3 and FoxP3 mRNA. A greater percentage of lymphocytes were Th2 polarized in IL-19 treated mice. Cellular characterization of plaque by immunohistochemistry demonstrated IL-19 treated mice have significantly less macrophage infiltrate compared with controls (p<0.001). Intravital microscopy revealed significantly less leukocyte adhesion in wild-type mice injected with IL-19 and fed an atherogenic diet compared with controls. Treatment of cultured endothelial cells (EC), vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) with IL-19 resulted in a significant decrease in chemokine mRNA, and in the mRNA-stability protein HuR.
These data suggest IL-19 is a potent inhibitor of experimental atherosclerosis, with diverse mechanisms including immune cell polarization, decrease in macrophage adhesion, and decrease in gene expression. This may identify IL-19 as a novel therapeutic to limit vascular inflammation.