PKCβ Promotes Vascular Inflammation and Acceleration of Atherosclerosis in Diabetic ApoE Null Mice

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Subjects with diabetes mellitus are at high risk for developing atherosclerosis through a variety of mechanisms. Because the metabolism of glucose results in production of activators of protein kinase C (PKC)β, it was logical to investigate the role of PKCβ in modulation of atherosclerosis in diabetes mellitus.

Approach and Results—

ApoE−/− and PKCβ−/−/ApoE−/− mice were rendered diabetic with streptozotocin. Quantification of atherosclerosis, gene expression profiling, or analysis of signaling molecules was performed on aortic sinus or aortas from diabetic mice. Diabetes mellitus–accelerated atherosclerosis increased the level of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and Jun-N-terminus kinase mitogen–activated protein kinases and augmented vascular expression of inflammatory mediators, as well as increased monocyte/macrophage infiltration and CD11c+ cells accumulation in diabetic ApoE−/− mice, processes that were diminished in diabetic PKCβ−/−/ApoE−/− mice. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of PKCβ reduced atherosclerotic lesion size in diabetic ApoE−/− mice. In vitro, the inhibitors of PKCβ and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, as well as small interfering RNA to Egr-1, significantly decreased high-glucose–induced expression of CD11c (integrin, alpha X 9complement component 3 receptor 4 subunit]), chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, and interleukin-1β in U937 macrophages.


These data link enhanced activation of PKCβ to accelerated diabetic atherosclerosis via a mechanism that includes modulation of gene transcription and signal transduction in the vascular wall, processes that contribute to acceleration of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis in diabetes mellitus. Our results uncover a novel role for PKCβ in modulating CD11c expression and inflammatory response of macrophages in the development of diabetic atherosclerosis. These findings support PKCβ activation as a potential therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of diabetic atherosclerosis.

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