Sub-endothelial infiltration of monocytes occurs early in atherogenesis and is facilitated by cell adhesion molecules that are up-regulated on activated endothelium. Apolipoprotein E (apoE) helps protect against atherosclerosis, in part, because apoE particles secreted by macrophages have local beneficial effects at lesion sites. Here, we hypothesize that such protection includes anti-inflammatory actions and investigate whether cell-derived apoE can inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha-mediated up-regulation of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Two models were used to mimic endothelial exposure to macrophage-derived apoE. In the first, HUVECs were transiently transfected to secrete apoE; VCAM-1 induction inversely correlated with secretion of apoE into the media (r = -0.76, p < 0.001). In the second, incubation of HUVECs with media from recombinant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing apoE (CHO(apoE)) also reduced VCAM-1 in a dose-dependent manner (r = -0.70, p < 0.001). Characterization of CHO(apoE) cell-derived apoE revealed several similarities to apoE particles secreted by human blood monocyte-derived macrophages. The suppression of endothelial activation by apoE most likely occurs via stimulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase; apoE increased levels of intracellular nitric oxide and its surrogate marker, cyclic guanosine monophosphate, while the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, ethyl-isothiourea, blocked its effect. We propose that apoE secreted locally at lesion sites by macrophages may be anti-inflammatory by stimulating endothelium to release NO and suppress VCAM-1 expression.
- Apolipoproteins E/physiology
- CHO Cells
- Endothelium, Vascular/cytology
- Nitric Oxide/metabolism
- Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1/genetics