Prevention of oxLDL uptake leads to decreased atherosclerosis in hematopoietic NPC1-deficient Ldlr(-/-) mice

Mike L. J. Jeurissen, Sofie M. A. Walenbergh, Tom Houben, Marion J. J. Gijbels, Jieyi Li, Tim Hendrikx, Yvonne Oligschläger, Patrick J. van Gorp, Christoph J. Binder, Marjo M. P. C. Donners, Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and aims: Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of medium and large vessels and is typically characterized by the predominant accumulation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol inside macrophages that reside in the vessel walls. Previous studies clearly demonstrated an association specifically between the oxidized type of LDL (oxLDL) and atherosclerotic lesion formation. Further observations revealed that these atherosclerotic lesions displayed enlarged, lipid-loaded lysosomes. By increasing natural antibodies against oxLDL, pneumococcal vaccination has been shown to reduce atherosclerosis in LDL receptor knockout (Ldlr(-/-)) mice. Relevantly, loss of the lysosomal membrane protein Niemann-Pick Type C1 (NPC1) led to lysosomal accumulation of various lipids and promoted atherosclerosis. Yet, the importance of lysosomal oxLDL accumulation inside macrophages, compared to non-modified LDL, in atherosclerosis has never been established. Methods: By transplanting NPC1 bone marrow into lethally irradiated Ldlr(-/-) mice, a hematopoietic mouse model for lysosomal cholesterol accumulation was created. Through injections with heat-inactivated pneumococci, we aimed to demonstrate the specific contribution of lysosomal oxLDL accumulation inside macrophages in atherosclerosis development. Results: While there were no differences in plaque morphology, a reduction in plaque size and plaque inflammation was found in immunized NPC1(mut)-transplanted mice, compared to non-immunized NPC1mut-transplanted mice. Conclusions: Lysosomal oxLDL accumulation within macrophages contributes to murine atherosclerosis. Future intervention strategies should focus specifically on preventing oxLDL, unlike non-modified LDL, from being internalized into lysosomes. Such an intervention can have an additive effect to current existing treatments against atherosclerosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-65
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Macrophages/monocytes
  • Antibodies
  • Oxidized lipids
  • Cholesterol/metabolism
  • Vascular biology


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