Mast cell chymase inhibition reduces atherosclerotic plaque progression and improves plaque stability in ApoE(-/-) mice

Ilze Bot*, Martine Bot, Sandra H. van Heiningen, Peter J. van Santbrink, Inge M. Lankhuizen, Peter Hartman, Sabine Gruener, Hans Hilpert, Theo J. C. van Berkel, Juergen Fingerle, Erik A. L. Biessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Aims Mast cells have been shown to accumulate in the adventitia of human atherosclerotic plaques and were recently demonstrated by us to contribute to plaque progression and instability. In this study, we investigated whether selective inhibition of mast cell chymases would affect the lesion development and stability. Methods and results The protease inhibitor RO5066852 appeared to be a potent inhibitor of chymase activity in vitro and ex vivo. With this inhibitor, we provide three lines of evidence that chymase inhibition can prevent many pro-atherogenic activities. First, oral administration of RO5066852 reduced spontaneous atherosclerosis in the thoracic aorta of apoE(-)/(-) mice. Second, chymase inhibition prevented the accelerated plaque progression observed in apoE(-/-) mice that were exposed to repetitive episodes of systemic mast cell activation. Furthermore, RO5066852 enhanced lesional collagen content and reduced necrotic core size. Third, RO5066852 treatment almost completely normalized the increased frequency and size of intraplaque haemorrhages observed in apoE(-/-) mice after acute perivascular mast cell activation in advanced atherosclerosis. Conclusion Our data indicate that chymase inhibition can inhibit pro-atherogenic and plaque destabilizing effects which are associated with perivascular mast cell activation. Our study thus identifies pharmacological chymase inhibition as a potential therapeutic modality for atherosclerotic plaque stabilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-252
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Mast cells
  • Proteases
  • Chymase
  • Inhibitors

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