Protective role for Toll-like receptor-9 in the development of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Christine Koulis, Yung-Chih Chen, Christian Hausding, Ingo Ahrens, Tin Soe Kyaw, Christopher Tay, Terri J Allen, Karin Agnes Maria Jandeleit-Dahm, Matthew James Sweet, Shizuo Akira, Alexander Bobik, Karlheinz Peter, Alexander Agrotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE - : Atherosclerosis is driven by inflammatory reactions that are shared with the innate immune system. Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is an intracellular pattern recognition receptor of the innate immune system that is currently under clinical investigation as a therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases. Here, we investigated whether TLR9-/- has a role in the development of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE -/-) mice. APPROACH AND RESULTS - : Newly generated double-knockout ApoE-/-:TLR9-/- mice and control ApoE-/- mice were fed a high-fat diet from 8 weeks and effects on lesion size, cellular composition, inflammatory status, and plasma lipids were assessed after 8, 12, 15, and 20 weeks. All 4 time points demonstrated exacerbated atherosclerotic lesion severity in ApoE-/-:TLR9-/- mice, with a corresponding increase in lipid deposition and accumulation of macrophages, dendritic cells, and CD4 T cells. Although ApoE-/-:TLR9-/- mice exhibited an increase in plasma very low-density lipoprotein/low-density- lipoprotein cholesterol, the very low-density lipoprotein/low-density lipoprotein:high-density lipoprotein ratio was unaltered because of a parallel increase in plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. As a potential mechanism accounting for plaque progression in ApoE-/-:TLR9 -/- mice, CD4 T-cell accumulation was further investigated and depletion of these cells in ApoE-/-:TLR9-/- mice significantly reduced lesion severity. As a final translational approach, administration of a TLR9-/- agonist (type B CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 1668) to ApoE-/- mice resulted in a reduction of lesion severity. CONCLUSIONS - : Genetic deletion of the innate immune receptor TLR9 -/- exacerbated atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice fed a high-fat diet. CD4 T cells were identified as potential mediators of this effect. A type B CpG oligodeoxynucleotide TLR9-/- agonist reduced lesion severity, thus identifying a novel therapeutic approach in atherosclerosis. ? 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516 - 525
Number of pages10
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this