Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α Expression in Macrophages Promotes Development of Atherosclerosis

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Atherosclerotic lesions contain hypoxic areas, but the pathophysiological importance of hypoxia is unknown. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is a key transcription factor in cellular responses to hypoxia. We investigated the hypothesis that HIF-1α has effects on macrophage biology that promotes atherogenesis in mice.

Approach and Results—

Studies with molecular probes, immunostaining, and laser microdissection of aortas revealed abundant hypoxic, HIF-1α–expressing macrophages in murine atherosclerotic lesions. To investigate the significance of macrophage HIF-1α, Ldlr−/− mice were transplanted with bone marrow from mice with HIF-1α deficiency in the myeloid cells or control bone marrow. The HIF-1α deficiency in myeloid cells reduced atherosclerosis in aorta of the Ldlr−/− recipient mice by ≈72% (P=0.006).

Approach and Results—

In vitro, HIF-1α–deficient macrophages displayed decreased differentiation to proinflammatory M1 macrophages and reduced expression of inflammatory genes. HIF-1α deficiency also affected glucose uptake, apoptosis, and migratory abilities of the macrophages.


HIF-1α expression in macrophages affects their intrinsic inflammatory profile and promotes development of atherosclerosis.

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