Histone Deacetylase 9 Activates IKK to Regulate Atherosclerotic Plaque Vulnerability

Yaw Asare, Thomas A. Campbell-James, Yury Bokov, Lydia Luya Yu, Matthias Prestel, Omar El Bounkari, Stefan Roth, Remco T. A. Megens, Tobias Straub, Kyra Thomas, Guangyao Yan, Melanie Schneider, Natalie Ziesch, Steffen Tiedt, Carlos Silvestre-Roig, Quinte Braster, Yishu Huang, Manuela Schneider, Rainer Malik, Christof HaffnerArthur Liesz, Oliver Soehnlein, Juergen Bernhagen, Martin Dichgans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


RATIONALE: Arterial inflammation manifested as atherosclerosis is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Genome-wide association studies have identified a prominent role of HDAC (histone deacetylase)-9 in atherosclerosis and its clinical complications including stroke and myocardial infarction.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the mechanisms linking HDAC9 to these vascular pathologies and explore its therapeutic potential for atheroprotection.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We studied the effects ofHdac9on features of plaque vulnerability using bone marrow reconstitution experiments and pharmacological targeting with a small molecule inhibitor in hyperlipidemic mice. We further used 2-photon and intravital microscopy to study endothelial activation and leukocyte-endothelial interactions. We show that hematopoieticHdac9deficiency reduces lesional macrophage content while increasing fibrous cap thickness thus conferring plaque stability. We demonstrate that HDAC9 binds to IKK (inhibitory kappa B kinase)-alpha and beta, resulting in their deacetylation and subsequent activation, which drives inflammatory responses in both macrophages and endothelial cells. Pharmacological inhibition of HDAC9 with the class IIa HDAC inhibitor TMP195 attenuates lesion formation by reducing endothelial activation and leukocyte recruitment along with limiting proinflammatory responses in macrophages. Transcriptional profiling using RNA sequencing revealed that TMP195 downregulates key inflammatory pathways consistent with inhibitory effects on IKK beta. TMP195 mitigates the progression of established lesions and inhibits the infiltration of inflammatory cells. Moreover, TMP195 diminishes features of plaque vulnerability and thereby enhances plaque stability in advanced lesions. Ex vivo treatment of monocytes from patients with established atherosclerosis reduced the production of inflammatory cytokines including IL (interleukin)-1 beta and IL-6.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings identify HDAC9 as a regulator of atherosclerotic plaque stability and IKK activation thus providing a mechanistic explanation for the prominence of HDAC9 as a vascular risk locus in genome-wide association studies. Its therapeutic inhibition may provide a potent lever to alleviate vascular inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-823
Number of pages13
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • bone marrow
  • inflammation
  • interleukin-6
  • monocytes


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