Activation of Adiponectin Receptor Regulates Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 Expression and Inhibits Lesions in ApoE-Deficient Mice

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The reduced adiponectin levels are associated with atherosclerosis. Adiponectin exerts its functions by activating adiponectin receptor (AdipoR). Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) degrades LDLR protein (low-density lipoprotein receptor) to increase serum LDL-cholesterol levels. PCSK9 expression can be regulated by PPARγ (peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ) or SREBP2 (sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2). The effects of AdipoR agonists on PCSK9 and LDLR expression, serum lipid profiles, and atherosclerosis remain unknown.

Approach and Results—

At cellular levels, AdipoR agonists (ADP355 and AdipoRon) induced PCSK9 transcription/expression that solely depended on activation of PPAR-responsive element in the PCSK9 promoter. AdipoR agonists induced PPARγ expression; thus, the AdipoR agonist-activated PCSK9 expression/production was impaired in PPARγ deficient hepatocytes. Meanwhile, AdipoR agonists transcriptionally activated LDLR expression by activating SRE in the LDLR promoter. Moreover, AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα) was involved in AdipoR agonist-activated PCSK9 expression. In wild-type mice, ADP355 increased PCSK9 and LDLR expression and serum PCSK9 levels, which was associated with activation of PPARγ, AMPKα and SREBP2 and reduction of LDL-cholesterol levels. In contrast, ADP355 reduced PCSK9 expression/secretion in apoE-deficient (apoE−/−) mice, but it still activated hepatic LDLR, PPARγ, AMPKα, and SREBP2. More importantly, ADP355 inhibited lesions in en face aortas and sinus lesions in aortic root in apoE−/− mice with amelioration of lipid profiles.


Our study demonstrates that AdipoR activation by agonists regulated PCSK9 expression differently in wild-type and apoE−/− mice. However, ADP355 activated hepatic LDLR expression and ameliorated lipid metabolism in both types of mice and inhibited atherosclerosis in apoE−/− mice.

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