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1.  The Adherence to Initial Processes of Care in Elderly Patients with Acute Venous Thromboembolism 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100164.
We aimed to assess whether elderly patients with acute venous thromboembolism (VTE) receive recommended initial processes of care and to identify predictors of process adherence.
We prospectively studied in- and outpatients aged ≥65 years with acute symptomatic VTE in a multicenter cohort study from nine Swiss university- and non-university hospitals between September 2009 and March 2011.
We systematically assessed whether initial processes of care, which are recommended by the 2008 American College of Chest Physicians guidelines, were performed in each patient. We used multivariable logistic models to identify patient factors independently associated with process adherence.
Our cohort comprised 950 patients (mean age 76 years). Of these, 86% (645/750) received parenteral anticoagulation for ≥5 days, 54% (405/750) had oral anticoagulation started on the first treatment day, and 37% (274/750) had an international normalized ratio (INR) ≥2 for ≥24 hours before parenteral anticoagulation was discontinued. Overall, 35% (53/153) of patients with cancer received low-molecular-weight heparin monotherapy and 72% (304/423) of patients with symptomatic deep vein thrombosis were prescribed compression stockings. In multivariate analyses, symptomatic pulmonary embolism, hospital-acquired VTE, and concomitant antiplatelet therapy were associated with a significantly lower anticoagulation-related process adherence.
Adherence to several recommended processes of care was suboptimal in elderly patients with VTE. Quality of care interventions should particularly focus on processes with low adherence, such as the prescription of continued low-molecular-weight heparin therapy in patients with cancer and the achievement of an INR ≥2 for ≥24 hours before parenteral anticoagulants are stopped.
PMCID: PMC4077699  PMID: 24983634
2.  Quality of Care after Acute Coronary Syndromes in a Prospective Cohort with Reasons for Non-Prescription of Recommended Medications 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93147.
Adherence to guidelines is associated with improved outcomes of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Clinical registries developed to assess quality of care at discharge often do not collect the reasons for non-prescription for proven efficacious preventive medication in Continental Europe. In a prospective cohort of patients hospitalized for an ACS, we aimed at measuring the rate of recommended treatment at discharge, using pre-specified quality indicators recommended in cardiologic guidelines and including systematic collection of reasons for non-prescription for preventive medications.
In a prospective cohort with 1260 patients hospitalized for ACS, we measured the rate of recommended treatment at discharge in 4 academic centers in Switzerland. Performance measures for medication at discharge were pre-specified according to guidelines, systematically collected for all patients and included in a centralized database.
Six hundred and eighty eight patients(54.6%) were discharged with a main diagnosis of STEMI, 491(39%) of NSTEMI and 81(6.4%) of unstable angina. Mean age was 64 years and 21.3% were women. 94.6% were prescribed angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers at discharge when only considering raw prescription rates, but increased to 99.5% when including reasons non-prescription. For statins, rates increased from 98% to 98.6% when including reasons for non-prescription and for beta-blockers, from 82% to 93%. For aspirin, rates further increased from 99.4% to 100% and from to 99.8% to 100% for P2Y12 inhibitors.
We found a very high adherence to ACS guidelines for drug prescriptions at discharge when including reasons for non-prescription to drug therapy. For beta-blockers, prescription rates were suboptimal, even after taking into account reason for non-prescription. In an era of improving quality of care to achieve 100% prescription rates at discharge unless contra-indicated, pre-specification of reasons for non-prescription for cardiovascular preventive medication permits to identify remaining gaps in quality of care at discharge.
Trial Registration NCT01000701
PMCID: PMC3968068  PMID: 24676282
3.  Deletion of Sirt3 does not affect atherosclerosis but accelerates weight gain and impairs rapid metabolic adaptation in LDL receptor knockout mice: implications for cardiovascular risk factor development 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2013;109(1):399.
Sirt3 is a mitochondrial NAD+-dependent deacetylase that governs mitochondrial metabolism and reactive oxygen species homeostasis. Sirt3 deficiency has been reported to accelerate the development of the metabolic syndrome. However, the role of Sirt3 in atherosclerosis remains enigmatic. We aimed to investigate whether Sirt3 deficiency affects atherosclerosis, plaque vulnerability, and metabolic homeostasis. Low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (LDLR−/−) and LDLR/Sirt3 double-knockout (Sirt3−/−LDLR−/−) mice were fed a high-cholesterol diet (1.25 % w/w) for 12 weeks. Atherosclerosis was assessed en face in thoraco-abdominal aortae and in cross sections of aortic roots. Sirt3 deletion led to hepatic mitochondrial protein hyperacetylation. Unexpectedly, though plasma malondialdehyde levels were elevated in Sirt3-deficient mice, Sirt3 deletion affected neither plaque burden nor features of plaque vulnerability (i.e., fibrous cap thickness and necrotic core diameter). Likewise, plaque macrophage and T cell infiltration as well as endothelial activation remained unaltered. Electron microscopy of aortic walls revealed no difference in mitochondrial microarchitecture between both groups. Interestingly, loss of Sirt3 was associated with accelerated weight gain and an impaired capacity to cope with rapid changes in nutrient supply as assessed by indirect calorimetry. Serum lipid levels and glucose tolerance were unaffected by Sirt3 deletion in LDLR−/− mice. Sirt3 deficiency does not affect atherosclerosis in LDLR−/− mice. However, Sirt3 controls systemic levels of oxidative stress, limits expedited weight gain, and allows rapid metabolic adaptation. Thus, Sirt3 may contribute to postponing cardiovascular risk factor development.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-013-0399-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3898152  PMID: 24370889
SIRTUIN 3; Atherosclerosis; Metabolism; Oxidative stress
4.  Identification of a SIRT1 Mutation in a Family with Type 1 Diabetes 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(3):448-455.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune-mediated β cell destruction leading to insulin deficiency. The histone deacetylase SIRT1 plays an essential role in modulating several age-related diseases. Here we describe a family carrying a mutation in the SIRT1 gene, in which all five affected members developed an autoimmune disorder: four developed type 1 diabetes, and one developed ulcerative colitis. Initially, a 26-year-old man was diagnosed with the typical features of type 1 diabetes, including lean body mass, autoantibodies, T cell reactivity to β cell antigens, and a rapid dependence on insulin. Direct and exome sequencing identified the presence of a T-to-C exchange in exon 1 of SIRT1, corresponding to a leucine-to-proline mutation at residue 107. Expression of SIRT1-L107P in insulin-producing cells resulted in overproduction of nitric oxide, cytokines, and chemokines. These observations identify a role for SIRT1 in human autoimmunity and unveil a monogenic form of type 1 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3746172  PMID: 23473037
5.  Endothelial mineralocorticoid receptor activation mediates endothelial dysfunction in diet-induced obesity 
European Heart Journal  2013;34(45):3515-3524.
Received 22 July 2012; revised 29 January 2013; accepted 4 March 2013
Aldosterone plays a crucial role in cardiovascular disease. ‘Systemic’ inhibition of its mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) decreases atherosclerosis by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Obesity, an important cardiovascular risk factor, is an inflammatory disease associated with increased plasma aldosterone levels. We have investigated the role of the ‘endothelial’ MR in obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction, the earliest stage in atherogenesis.
Methods and results
C57BL/6 mice were exposed to a normal chow diet (ND) or a high-fat diet (HFD) alone or in combination with the MR antagonist eplerenone (200 mg/kg/day) for 14 weeks. Diet-induced obesity impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in response to acetylcholine, whereas eplerenone treatment of obese mice prevented this. Expression analyses in aortic endothelial cells isolated from these mice revealed that eplerenone attenuated expression of pro-oxidative NADPH oxidase (subunits p22phox, p40phox) and increased expression of antioxidative genes (glutathione peroxidase-1, superoxide dismutase-1 and -3) in obesity. Eplerenone did not affect obesity-induced upregulation of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 or prostacyclin synthase. Endothelial-specific MR deletion prevented endothelial dysfunction in obese (exhibiting high ‘endogenous’ aldosterone) and in ‘exogenous’ aldosterone-infused lean mice. Pre-incubation of aortic rings from aldosterone-treated animals with the COX-inhibitor indomethacin restored endothelial function. Exogenous aldosterone administration induced endothelial expression of p22phox in the presence, but not in the absence of the endothelial MR.
Obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction depends on the ‘endothelial’ MR and is mediated by an imbalance of oxidative stress-modulating mechanisms. Therefore, MR antagonists may represent an attractive therapeutic strategy in the increasing population of obese patients to decrease vascular dysfunction and subsequent atherosclerotic complications.
PMCID: PMC3844149  PMID: 23594590
Obesity; Endothelial; Aldosterone; Mineralocorticoid receptor
6.  Antibody Phage Display Assisted Identification of Junction Plakoglobin as a Potential Biomarker for Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47985.
To date, no plaque-derived blood biomarker is available to allow diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases. In this study, specimens of thrombendarterectomy material from carotid and iliac arteries were incubated in protein-free medium to obtain plaque and control secretomes for subsequent subtractive phage display. The selection of nine plaque secretome-specific antibodies and the analysis of their immunopurified antigens by mass spectrometry led to the identification of 22 proteins. One of them, junction plakoglobin (JUP-81) and its smaller isoforms (referred to as JUP-63, JUP-55 and JUP-30 by molecular weight) were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting with independent antibodies to be present in atherosclerotic plaques and their secretomes, coronary thrombi of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and macrophages differentiated from peripheral blood monocytes as well as macrophage-like cells differentiated from THP1 cells. Plasma of patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) (n = 15) and ACS (n = 11) contained JUP-81 at more than 2- and 14-fold higher median concentrations, respectively, than plasma of CAD-free individuals (n = 13). In conclusion, this proof of principle study identified and verified JUP isoforms as potential plasma biomarkers for atherosclerosis. Clinical validation studies are needed to determine its diagnostic efficacy and clinical utility as a biomarker for diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3480477  PMID: 23110151
7.  From abstract to impact in cardiovascular research: factors predicting publication and citation 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(24):3034-3045.
Through a 4-year follow-up of the abstracts submitted to the European Society of Cardiology Congress in 2006, we aimed at identifying factors predicting high-quality research, appraising the quality of the peer review and editorial processes, and thereby revealing potential ways to improve future research, peer review, and editorial work.
Methods and results
All abstracts submitted in 2006 were assessed for acceptance, presentation format, and average reviewer rating. Accepted and rejected studies were followed for 4 years. Multivariate regression analyses of a representative selection of 10% of all abstracts (n= 1002) were performed to identify factors predicting acceptance, subsequent publication, and citation. A total of 10 020 abstracts were submitted, 3104 (31%) were accepted for poster, and 701 (7%) for oral presentation. At Congress level, basic research, a patient number ≥ 100, and prospective study design were identified as independent predictors of acceptance. These factors differed from those predicting full-text publication, which included academic affiliation. The single parameter predicting frequent citation was study design with randomized controlled trials reaching the highest citation rates. The publication rate of accepted studies was 38%, whereas only 24% of rejected studies were published. Among published studies, those accepted at the Congress received higher citation rates than rejected ones.
Research of high quality was determined by study design and largely identified at Congress level through blinded peer review. The scientometric follow-up revealed a marked disparity between predictors of full-text publication and those predicting citation or acceptance at the Congress.
PMCID: PMC3530902  PMID: 22669850
Scientific quality; Peer review; Publication; Impact
8.  Profibrotic potential of Prominin-1+ epithelial progenitor cells in pulmonary fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):126.
In idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis loss of alveolar epithelium induces inflammation of the pulmonary tissue followed by accumulation of pathogenic myofibroblasts leading eventually to respiratory failures. In animal models inflammatory and resident cells have been demonstrated to contribute to pulmonary fibrosis. Regenerative potential of pulmonary and extra-pulmonary stem and progenitor cells raised the hope for successful treatment option against pulmonary fibrosis. Herein, we addressed the contribution of lung microenvironment and prominin-1+ bone marrow-derived epithelial progenitor cells in the mouse model of bleomycin-induced experimental pulmonary fibrosis.
Prominin-1+ bone marrow-derived epithelial progenitors were expanded from adult mouse lungs and differentiated in vitro by cytokines and growth factors. Pulmonary fibrosis was induced in C57Bl/6 mice by intratracheal instillation of bleomycin. Prominin-1+ progenitors were administered intratracheally at different time points after bleomycin challenge. Green fluorescence protein-expressing cells were used for cell tracking. Cell phenotypes were characterized by immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Prominin-1+ cells expanded from healthy lung represent common progenitors of alveolar type II epithelial cells, myofibroblasts, and macrophages. Administration of prominin-1+ cells 2 hours after bleomycin instillation protects from pulmonary fibrosis, and some of progenitors differentiate into alveolar type II epithelial cells. In contrast, prominin-1+ cells administered at day 7 or 14 lose their protective effects and differentiate into myofibroblasts and macrophages. Bleomycin challenge enhances accumulation of bone marrow-derived prominin-1+ cells within inflamed lung. In contrast to prominin-1+ cells from healthy lung, prominin-1+ precursors isolated from inflamed organ lack regenerative properties but acquire myofibroblast and macrophage phenotypes.
The microenvironment of inflamed lung impairs the regenerative capacity of bone marrow-derived prominin-1+ progenitors and promotes their differentiation into pathogenic phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3191512  PMID: 21943210
bone marrow; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; lung; myofibroblasts; progenitor; prominin-1/CD133
9.  Mechanisms underlying adverse effects of HDL on eNOS-activating pathways in patients with coronary artery disease 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(7):2693-2708.
Therapies that raise levels of HDL, which is thought to exert atheroprotective effects via effects on endothelium, are being examined for the treatment or prevention of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, the endothelial effects of HDL are highly heterogeneous, and the impact of HDL of patients with CAD on the activation of endothelial eNOS and eNOS-dependent pathways is unknown. Here we have demonstrated that, in contrast to HDL from healthy subjects, HDL from patients with stable CAD or an acute coronary syndrome (HDLCAD) does not have endothelial antiinflammatory effects and does not stimulate endothelial repair because it fails to induce endothelial NO production. Mechanistically, this was because HDLCAD activated endothelial lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor 1 (LOX-1), triggering endothelial PKCβII activation, which in turn inhibited eNOS-activating pathways and eNOS-dependent NO production. We then identified reduced HDL-associated paraoxonase 1 (PON1) activity as one molecular mechanism leading to the generation of HDL with endothelial PKCβII-activating properties, at least in part due to increased formation of malondialdehyde in HDL. Taken together, our data indicate that in patients with CAD, HDL gains endothelial LOX-1– and thereby PKCβII-activating properties due to reduced HDL-associated PON1 activity, and that this leads to inhibition of eNOS-activation and the subsequent loss of the endothelial antiinflammatory and endothelial repair–stimulating effects of HDL.
PMCID: PMC3223817  PMID: 21701070
10.  Beneficial effects of combinatorial micronutrition on body fat and atherosclerosis in mice 
Cardiovascular Research  2011;91(4):732-741.
More than two billion people worldwide are deficient in key micronutrients. Single micronutrients have been used at high doses to prevent and treat dietary insufficiencies. Yet the impact of combinations of micronutrients in small doses aiming to improve lipid disorders and the corresponding metabolic pathways remains incompletely understood. Thus, we investigated whether a combination of micronutrients would reduce fat accumulation and atherosclerosis in mice.
Methods and results
Lipoprotein receptor-null mice fed with an original combination of micronutrients incorporated into the daily chow showed reduced weight gain, body fat, plasma triglycerides, and increased oxygen consumption. These effects were achieved through enhanced lipid utilization and reduced lipid accumulation in metabolic organs and were mediated, in part, by the nuclear receptor PPARα. Moreover, the micronutrients partially prevented atherogenesis when administered early in life to apolipoprotein E-null mice. When the micronutrient treatment was started before conception, the anti-atherosclerotic effect was stronger in the progeny. This finding correlated with decreased post-prandial triglyceridaemia and vascular inflammation, two major atherogenic factors.
Our data indicate beneficial effects of a combination of micronutritients on body weight gain, hypertriglyceridaemia, liver steatosis, and atherosclerosis in mice, and thus our findings suggest a novel cost-effective combinatorial micronutrient-based strategy worthy of being tested in humans.
PMCID: PMC3156909  PMID: 21622975
Atherosclerosis; Lipids; PPARα; Nutrition; Prevention
11.  Hyperactive S6K1 Mediates Oxidative Stress and Endothelial Dysfunction in Aging: Inhibition by Resveratrol 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19237.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/S6K1 signalling emerges as a critical regulator of aging. Yet, a role of mTOR/S6K1 in aging-associated vascular endothelial dysfunction remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of S6K1 in aging-associated endothelial dysfunction and effects of the polyphenol resveratrol on S6K1 in aging endothelial cells. We show here that senescent endothelial cells displayed higher S6K1 activity, increased superoxide production and decreased bioactive nitric oxide (NO) levels than young endothelial cells, which is contributed by eNOS uncoupling. Silencing S6K1 in senescent cells reduced superoxide generation and enhanced NO production. Conversely, over-expression of a constitutively active S6K1 mutant in young endothelial cells mimicked endothelial dysfunction of the senescent cells through eNOS uncoupling and induced premature cellular senescence. Like the mTOR/S6K1 inhibitor rapamycin, resveratrol inhibited S6K1 signalling, resulting in decreased superoxide generation and enhanced NO levels in the senescent cells. Consistent with the data from cultured cells, an enhanced S6K1 activity, increased superoxide generation, and decreased bioactive NO levels associated with eNOS uncoupling were also detected in aortas of old WKY rats (aged 20–24 months) as compared to the young animals (1–3 months). Treatment of aortas of old rats with resveratrol or rapamycin inhibited S6K1 activity, oxidative stress, and improved endothelial NO production. Our data demonstrate a causal role of the hyperactive S6K1 in eNOS uncoupling leading to endothelial dysfunction and vascular aging. Resveratrol improves endothelial function in aging, at least in part, through inhibition of S6K1. Targeting S6K1 may thus represent a novel therapeutic approach for aging-associated vascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3081344  PMID: 21544240
12.  Fibroblast activation protein is induced by inflammation and degrades type I collagen in thin-cap fibroatheromata 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(21):2713-2722.
Collagen degradation in atherosclerotic plaques with thin fibrous caps renders them more prone to rupture. Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) plays a role in arthritis and tumour formation through its collagenase activity. However, the significance of FAP in thin-cap human fibroatheromata remains unknown.
Methods and results
We detected enhanced FAP expression in type IV–V human aortic atheromata (n = 12), compared with type II–III lesions (n = 9; P < 0.01) and healthy aortae (n = 8; P < 0.01) by immunostaining and western blot analyses. Fibroblast activation protein was also increased in thin-cap (<65 µm) vs. thick-cap (≥65 µm) human coronary fibroatheromata (n = 12; P < 0.01). Fibroblast activation protein was expressed by human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMC) as shown by colocalization on immunofluorescent aortic plaque stainings (n = 10; P < 0.01) and by flow cytometry in cell culture. Although macrophages did not express FAP, macrophage burden in human aortic plaques correlated with FAP expression (n = 12; R2= 0.763; P < 0.05). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays showed a time- and dose-dependent up-regulation of FAP in response to human tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) in HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01). Moreover, supernatants from peripheral blood-derived macrophages induced FAP expression in cultured HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01), an effect abolished by blocking TNFα (n = 6; P < 0.01). Fibroblast activation protein associated with collagen-poor regions in human coronary fibrous caps and digested type I collagen and gelatin in vitro (n = 6; P < 0.01). Zymography revealed that FAP-mediated collagenase activity was neutralized by an antibody directed against the FAP catalytic domain both in HASMC (n = 6; P < 0.01) and in fibrous caps of atherosclerotic plaques (n = 10; P < 0.01).
Fibroblast activation protein expression in HASMC is induced by macrophage-derived TNFα. Fibroblast activation protein associates with thin-cap human coronary fibroatheromata and contributes to type I collagen breakdown in fibrous caps.
PMCID: PMC3205479  PMID: 21292680
Atherosclerosis; Antibodies; Collagen; Inflammation; Smooth muscle cells
13.  Dietary α-linolenic acid diminishes experimental atherogenesis and restricts T cell-driven inflammation 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(20):2573-2584.
Epidemiological studies report an inverse association between plant-derived dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) and cardiovascular events. However, little is known about the mechanism of this protection. We assessed the cellular and molecular mechanisms of dietary ALA (flaxseed) on atherosclerosis in a mouse model.
Methods and results
Eight-week-old male apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE−/−) mice were fed a 0.21 % (w/w) cholesterol diet for 16 weeks containing either a high ALA [7.3 % (w/w); n = 10] or low ALA content [0.03 % (w/w); n = 10]. Bioavailability, chain elongation, and fatty acid metabolism were measured by gas chromatography of tissue lysates and urine. Plaques were assessed using immunohistochemistry. T cell proliferation was investigated in primary murine CD3-positive lymphocytes. T cell differentiation and activation was assessed by expression analyses of interferon-γ, interleukin-4, and tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) using quantitative PCR and ELISA. Dietary ALA increased aortic tissue levels of ALA as well as of the n−3 long chain fatty acids (LC n−3 FA) eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. The high ALA diet reduced plaque area by 50% and decreased plaque T cell content as well as expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and TNFα. Both dietary ALA and direct ALA exposure restricted T cell proliferation, differentiation, and inflammatory activity. Dietary ALA shifted prostaglandin and isoprostane formation towards 3-series compounds, potentially contributing to the atheroprotective effects of ALA.
Dietary ALA diminishes experimental atherogenesis and restricts T cell-driven inflammation, thus providing the proof-of-principle that plant-derived ALA may provide a valuable alternative to marine LC n−3 FA.
PMCID: PMC3195262  PMID: 21285075
α-Linolenic acid; Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; Polyunsaturated fatty acids
14.  ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− Mice Display Reduced IL-18 Levels and Do Not Develop Enhanced Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13539.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that evolves from the interaction of activated endothelial cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and modified lipoproteins (LDLs). In the last years many molecules with crucial metabolic functions have been shown to prevent important steps in the progression of atherogenesis, including peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) and the class III histone deacetylase (HDAC) SIRT1. The PPARγ coactivator 1 alpha (Ppargc1a or PGC-1α) was identified as an important transcriptional cofactor of PPARγ and is activated by SIRT1. The aim of this study was to analyze total PGC-1α deficiency in an atherosclerotic mouse model.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To investigate if total PGC-1α deficiency affects atherosclerosis, we compared ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− and ApoE−/− PGC-1α+/+ mice kept on a high cholesterol diet. Despite having more macrophages and a higher ICAM-1 expression in plaques, ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− did not display more or larger atherosclerotic plaques than their ApoE−/− PGC-1α+/+ littermates. In line with the previously published phenotype of PGC-1α−/− mice, ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− mice had marked reduced body, liver and epididymal white adipose tissue (WAT) weight. VLDL/LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride contents were also reduced. Aortic expression of PPARα and PPARγ, two crucial regulators for adipocyte differentitation and glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as the expression of some PPAR target genes was significantly reduced in ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− mice. Importantly, the epididymal WAT and aortic expression of IL-18 and IL-18 plasma levels, a pro-atherosclerotic cytokine, was markedly reduced in ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− mice.
ApoE−/− PGC-1α−/− mice, similar as PGC-1α−/− mice exhibit markedly reduced total body and visceral fat weight. Since inflammation of visceral fat is a crucial trigger of atherogenesis, decreased visceral fat in PGC-1α-deficient mice may explain why these mice do not develop enhanced atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2962638  PMID: 21042583
15.  SIRT1 reduces endothelial activation without affecting vascular function in ApoE-/- mice 
Aging (Albany NY)  2010;2(6):353-360.
Excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) contributes to progression of atherosclerosis, at least in part by causing endothelial dysfunction and inflammatory activation. The class III histone deacetylase SIRT1 has been implicated in extension of lifespan. In the vasculature,SIRT1 gain-of-function using SIRT1 overexpression or activation has been shown to improve endothelial function in mice and rats via stimulation of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS). However, the effects of SIRT1 loss-of-function on the endothelium in atherosclerosis remain to be characterized. Thus, we have investigated the endothelial effects of decreased endogenous SIRT1 in hypercholesterolemic ApoE-/- mice. We observed no difference in endothelial relaxation and eNOS (Ser1177) phosphorylation between 20-week old male atherosclerotic ApoE-/- SIRT1+/- and ApoE-/- SIRT1+/+ mice. However, SIRT1 prevented endothelial superoxide production, inhibited NF-κB signaling, and diminished expression of adhesion molecules. Treatment of young hypercholesterolemic ApoE-/- SIRT1+/- mice with lipopolysaccharide to boost NF-κB signaling led to a more pronounced endothelial expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 as compared to ApoE-/- SIRT1+/+ mice. In conclusion, endogenous SIRT1 diminishes endothelial activation in ApoE-/- mice, but does not affect endothelium-dependent vasodilatation.
PMCID: PMC2919255  PMID: 20606253
SIRT1; atherosclerosis; endothelium; inflammation
16.  SIRT1 decreases Lox-1-mediated foam cell formation in atherogenesis 
European Heart Journal  2010;31(18):2301-2309.
Endothelial activation, macrophage infiltration, and foam cell formation are pivotal steps in atherogenesis. Our aim in this study was to analyse the role of SIRT1, a class III deacetylase with important metabolic functions, in plaque macrophages and atherogenesis.
Methods and results
Using partial SIRT1 deletion in atherosclerotic mice, we demonstrate that SIRT1 protects against atherosclerosis by reducing macrophage foam cell formation. Peritoneal macrophages from heterozygous SIRT1 mice accumulate more oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), thereby promoting foam cell formation. Bone marrow-restricted SIRT1 deletion confirmed that SIRT1 function in macrophages is sufficient to decrease atherogenesis. Moreover, we show that SIRT1 reduces the uptake of oxLDL by diminishing the expression of lectin-like oxLDL receptor-1 (Lox-1) via suppression of the NF-κB signalling pathway.
Our findings demonstrate protective effects of SIRT1 in atherogenesis and suggest pharmacological SIRT1 activation as a novel anti-atherosclerotic strategy by reducing macrophage foam cell formation.
PMCID: PMC2938465  PMID: 20418343
SIRT1; Macrophage foam cell; Atherogenesis
17.  Imaging of the unstable plaque: how far have we got? 
European Heart Journal  2009;30(21):2566-2574.
Rupture of unstable plaques may lead to myocardial infarction or stroke and is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in western countries. Thus, there is a clear need for identifying these vulnerable plaques before the rupture occurs. Atherosclerotic plaques are a challenging imaging target as they are small and move rapidly, especially in the coronary tree. Many of the currently available imaging tools for clinical use still provide minimal information about the biological characteristics of plaques, because they are limited with respect to spatial and temporal resolution. Moreover, many of these imaging tools are invasive. The new generation of imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear imaging such as positron emission tomography and single photon emission computed tomography, computed tomography, fluorescence imaging, intravascular ultrasound, and optical coherence tomography offer opportunities to overcome some of these limitations. This review discusses the potential of these techniques for imaging the unstable plaque.
PMCID: PMC2771148  PMID: 19833636
Atherosclerosis; Molecular imaging; Vulnerable plaque
18.  Inhibition of Apoptosis-Regulated Signaling Kinase-1 and Prevention of Congestive Heart Failure by Estrogen 
Circulation  2007;115(25):3197-3204.
Epidemiological studies have shown gender differences in the incidence of congestive heart failure (CHF); however, the role of estrogen in CHF is not known. We hypothesize that estrogen prevents cardiomyocyte apoptosis and the development of CHF.
Methods and Results
17β-Estradiol (E2, 0.5 mg/60-day release) or placebo pellet was implanted subcutaneously into male Gαq transgenic (Gq) mice. After 8 weeks, E2 treatment decreased the extent of cardiac hypertrophy and dilation and improved contractility in Gq mice. E2 treatment also attenuated nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase activity and superoxide anion production via downregulation of Rac1. This correlated with reduced apoptosis in cardiomyocytes of Gq mice. The antioxidative properties of E2 were also associated with increased expression of thioredoxin (Trx), Trx reductases, and Trx reductase activity in the hearts of Gq mice. Furthermore, the activation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 and its downstream effectors, c-Jun N-terminal kinase and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, in the hearts of Gq mice was reduced by long-term E2 treatment. Indeed, E2 (10 nmol/L)-treated cardiomyocytes were much more resistant to angiotensin II–induced apoptosis. These antiapoptotic and cardioprotective effects of E2 were blocked by an estrogen receptor antagonist (ICI 182,780) and by a Trx reductase inhibitor (azelaic acid).
These findings indicate that long-term E2 treatment improves CHF by antioxidative mechanisms that involve the upregulation of Trx and inhibition of Rac1-mediated attenuated nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase activity and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 /c-Jun N-terminal kinase/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase–mediated apoptosis. These results suggest that estrogen may be a useful adjunctive therapy for patients with CHF.
PMCID: PMC2701741  PMID: 17562954
apoptosis; antioxidants; heart failure; hormones

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