The anti-apoptotic protein myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1) plays an important role in survival and differentiation of leukocytes, more specifically of neutrophils. Here, we investigated the impact of myeloid Mcl-1 deletion in atherosclerosis. Western type diet fed LDL receptor-deficient mice were transplanted with either wild-type (WT) or LysMCre Mcl-(fl/fl) (Mcl-1(-/-)) bone marrow. Mcl-1 myeloid deletion resulted in enhanced apoptosis and lipid accumulation in atherosclerotic plaques. In vitro, Mcl-1 deficient macrophages also showed increased lipid accumulation, resulting in increased sensitivity to lipid-induced cell death. However, plaque size, necrotic core and macrophage content were similar in Mcl-1(-/-) compared to WT mice, most likely due to decreased circulating and plaque-residing neutrophils. Interestingly, Mcl-1(-/-) peritoneal foam cells formed up to 45% more multinucleated giant cells (MGCs) in vitro compared to WT, which concurred with an increased MGC presence in atherosclerotic lesions of Mcl-1(-/-) mice. Moreover, analysis of human unstable atherosclerotic lesions also revealed a significant inverse correlation between MGC lesion content and Mcl-1 gene expression, coinciding with the mouse data. Taken together, these findings suggest that myeloid Mcl-1 deletion leads to a more apoptotic, lipid and MGC-enriched phenotype. These potentially pro-atherogenic effects are however counteracted by neutropenia in circulation and plaque.
- ATHEROSCLEROTIC PLAQUES